Last semester on Nov. 8, 2022, a fire broke out in the Barnes & Noble on Rowan Blvd. This incident left students without coffee and textbooks for just under a month before re-opening on Nov. 27.
Three months later, the cafe is still closed, but as construction plans are finalized, a set time frame will be released within the next few weeks.
When the fire was put out, the store had to deal with not only damage that the fire caused, but water damage from when the sprinklers went off and the fire was put out. In addition to the closing of the cafe, the store faced several supply chain issues, after most of their clothing was damaged due to the smoke.
“Anything that was fabric, certain things that were plastic, certain types of plastic had to go,” said John Styles, the Barnes & Noble store manager.
The store had to dispose of any damaged items and fix the damage that was done to the building before it re-opened. Even after it opened up for business again, they are still working on getting things back to the way they used to be.
“We still don’t have all our signage up because they have to replace all the ceiling tiles,” said Styles.
In terms of merchandise, the store is going through the insurance process and more items are returning to the store as time goes on.
“It’s going through the insurance process. They’ve generated filling orders and reorders and all of that, it’s just a matter of the manufacturers having a product, doing it, and getting into us,” said Styles.
The store hopes to have a much larger inventory of products when students return from spring break. Until then, there is still merchandise coming back slowly as the store recovers from the fire.
Evan Peacock is a senior computer science major at Rowan and is also a Barnes & Noble employee. He has noticed that not as many people have been around the store, compared to semesters past. The store still has tables for studying upstairs though and students have been utilizing them despite the fact that the cafe is closed.
“I think the cafe brought in a lot of people. I’ve actually seen people like going to Dawn to Dusk to get coffee and then coming here so I think people are just looking for the ‘coffee and a bookstore’ kind of thing. But because that’s not really a part of it anymore I think we’re seeing a lot less people,” Peacock said.
The store has been open since the end of November, and it still has the books and textbooks that students need for classes.
“I think that people should know that we are open and that we are getting stuff back in,” Peacock said.
Even though a set date has yet to be announced, the store is just as eager as the community to open the cafe back up. When it does open, it will look very similar to the way that it used to, and students will be able to study and get their coffee there once again.
“As soon as I have a date we will get it out in the Rowan Announcer and we’ll put it out on our social media,” Styles said.
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