VOL. 115 | NO. 222 | Friday, December 28, 2001
By JENNIFER MURLEY
E. Memphis neighborhood checks out new library
By JENNIFER MURLEY
The Daily News
It has now been a month since the newest kid on the 3000 block of Poplar Avenue has moved in, and the jury is still out regarding the impact the new $70 million central library facility has had on many nearby businesses.
During the librarys mid-November grand opening week alone, more than 38,000 people visited the site, attracting traffic not seen in a long while by area retailers.
"I think the attendance and the reaction from the community has gone even beyond our expectations," said Bobby King, news coordinator for the Memphis and Shelby County Public Library System. "And were still seeing quite a bit of traffic, even for school being out and everything else, you can still see thousands of people come through on a busy day."
Leonard Lurie of Lurie and Associates manages the nearby retail shopping center Chickasaw Oaks Plaza, which shares a parking lot with the library. The center includes nearly 20 businesses ranging from retail businesses to galleries to restaurants.
"Weve had some very positive response from our shop owners," Lurie said. "They are getting the advantage of the increased traffic that the library is bringing in without any question."
Just prior to the librarys grand opening, the shopping center underwent a massive $400,000 facelift incorporating a new facade, lighting and dormer windows.
"I wont swear it was in anticipation of the library, but I think the library had a lot to do with it," he said. "We try to do things to be a good neighbor and work with them."
Business owner Malcolm Levi, whose wife, Jenny, runs the Blue Moon restaurant in Chickasaw Oaks directly adjacent to the library, said he has noticed a slight but distinct boost in lunchtime sales, but added that "its really too soon to tell" the long-term impact it may have on his business.
However, Levi said in the upcoming year, the now 2-year-old restaurant will incorporate some operational changes to accommodate the new library crowds.
"We will probably change some of our hours, because usually our lunch ends at 2:30 and we dont open again until five," he said. "Well probably stay open during that time with a limited menu, cold items and salads, as a lot of library employees take their dinner break from 4:30 to 5:30."
The restaurant also has an upstairs equipped with fireplaces, which Levi ultimately plans to promote as a cozy reading room serving appetizers and drinks.
Laura Lynch, a sales clerk at the upscale womens clothing store Miguelas, also in Chickasaw Oaks, said while some new clients have resulted from the librarys presence, overall sales have remained largely unchanged.
"We get a few people who come in here then go to the library, and weve had a librarian come in to buy for her daughter," Lynch said. "But, its really hard to tell because were a new business so were still building our clientele."
Nearby bookseller Jamie Williams, owner of the Book Bank down the street at 3161 Poplar, echoes Lynchs feedback.
"I havent noticed any difference in business or foot traffic," said Lynch, who has been selling mostly used paperback books at her Poplar location for the past seven years. "My regulars still come in, and a couple of them have mentioned going down there, but they still get their books from me."
Lynch said shes been in a sort of wait-and-see mode not knowing how the library will affect her business, but she admits it may be too soon to tell.
"I dont think it will hurt our business because we do different kinds of things," Lynch said. "We may actually get more people since were so close to (the library)."
Video store manager Jennifer Pearce said the same thing. At Videos, Movies and More, across the street from the library at 3125 Poplar, sales are steady and Pearce welcomes the presence of the library.
"People have the preconceived notion that the library is competition for us, but its not really," she said, referring to the librarys inexpensive video rentals. "If we had our wish, wed be right next door to Blockbuster because its like restaurants, when you have more in the same area, then it pulls more people to the area in general."
In fact, she said the relocation of the new library was a major factor in the video stores current location.
Also, as the oldest independent video store in town, Pearces store is often the destination of people in search of rare videos. If they dont have the flick, the first place they refer customers is the library, she said.
"There are so few independent video stores, and I consider the library an independent place sort of. So, any rollover we get is nice," she said.