Bookstore in the Grove Forced to Make Way for Office Space

A monster corporation edging out a locally owned business -- it's a tale as old as You've Got Mail. (Hey, remember when AOL was culturally relevant?) Coconut Grove's quaint cafe/bookseller, Bookstore in the Grove, is the latest to face this modern fate.

Luckily, the iconic local spot isn't closing entirely, just relocating. But the store is being bumped to make room for office space. Isn't it already hard enough for a brick and mortar bookstore to make it in the age of Amazon and Nook?

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According to Sandy Francis, co-owner, the new tenants, Sapient Corporation, plan to take up a lot of square footage in Mayfair in the Grove. So the current retail space will be converted into office space for the global biz, which currently leases multiple offices in Miami Beach (and numerous other cities worldwide).

Francis praised her landlord for his efforts to arrange a relocation destination for the booksellers, as well as the aesthetics of the store's new location at 3390 Mary Street. But in the end, she's still concerned about its off-the-beaten-path placement.

"There's no retail traffic where we're going, so we are afraid that it ends up being a business killer. We don't know if we're going to survive once we're off the main drag."

Francis looked into leasing space in Cocowalk, but Starbucks apparently has the exclusive contract on coffee there, so the bookstore would have had to change their business model and abandon the cafe element.

"What makes the bookstore special is the fact that it is a community bookstore where you can come in with your child after school and have a snack in the cafe. You can come in after a movie and have a cappuccino or glass of wine and sit down and talk with friends. That's what made us successful. If we didn't have the cafe, then what difference is there between the bookstore and Waldenbooks, which is long out of business?" Francis adds.

The new locale sits at the corner of Mary Street and Florida Avenue. The space is a little bit different, but potentially offers more in the way of selling room.

"We're going to do the best we can. I wish I could say to you we've grown out of our space, but we're doing what we have to do. We're making the best of our situation because we don't have any choices," Francis said.

Relocation starts today. And while it'll take time for the dust to settle, bookstore customers needn't worry about interruptions in service.

"We will not be full serve, but we will be open immediately. The cafe will almost be open immediately and the bookstore - anything we can find we can sell. Then over the course of the next week we'll get organized."

They're also planning to host a re-Grand Opening celebration sometime in February, although details have yet to be ironed out.

Bottom line? This Grove spot needs loyal customers to follow them to their new location. After all, Miami needs more locally owned businesses, not less. So skip the Starbucks or the Amazon order and give the Bookstore in the Grove a few of your dollars instead.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.

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