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Half Price Books to close Lawrence store in coming months


Silly me, I thought 10 inches of snow meant that it was snow shoveling season. But based on the actions of a few other people in my house yesterday, I guess it is book-reading season.

Well, book readers soon will have one less option to feed their habit in Lawrence. Officials with Half Price Books confirmed the Lawrence store will be closing in the coming months.

An executive out of the bookstore’s corporate offices in Dallas told me the Lawrence store, located at 1519 W. 23rd Street, is slated to close on June 14.

Kathy Doyle Thomas, an executive vice president with the chain, said the Lawrence store simply was underperforming.

“We’re very sad about it,” Thomas said. “We’ve been in the Lawrence market for 10 years. There just aren’t enough customers.”

Lawrence’s education levels certainly suggest the city would be a good book market, but it appears Half Price Books may have discovered what a few other retailers have over the years: Lawrence isn’t quite as big as it first seems.

“In the Lawrence market we have a real strong base of loyal customers, but there just isn’t enough of them,” Thomas said. “With the book industry the way it is right now, we have to be in communities with a larger population.”

Thomas said the company plans to move the inventory of the Lawrence store to a new store it is opening in Independence, Mo. So, don’t expect a big going-out-of-business closeout sale.

There are about 15 employees at the Lawrence store. After its closing, the closest Half Price Book store will be in Olathe.


overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

my thoughts exactly. Time for a reverse boycot....get in there and buy a book. lets swamp them!!

LogicMan 5 years, 3 months ago

That's unfortunate -- it is a good place to browse for interesting used books. Chalk another one up to the blessing/curse of the Internet.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

Are you a nice customer? I've never had anything but pleasant experiences at half price books and always get the help I need. With a smile.

George_Braziller 5 years, 3 months ago

That was my experience at Ernst Hardware. Stood at the register with cash in my hand and the owner, after looking at me over the newspaper he was reading, went back to reading. I walked out and have never set foot in the place since.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

hmmm. I get friendly every time. I'm in there at least once a month.

Mehriheart 5 years, 3 months ago

Somehow I am doubting you are a 'nice customer.'

Kelly Cline 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, overthemoon, replies a Half Price employee! And yes, there are very unpleasant customers. Our staff believes strongly in customer service and always have, but at times a customer can make what should be a pleasant experience, NOT! It is very sad for the Lawrence community to loose another bookstore or any store for that matter. We forget we are a small town and must spend a few dollars locally to make our favorite places survive. Please think of those who are here and take time to promote and visit them regularly.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

You are all great! I've never had a bad experience at half-price....and I'm the customer that always asks for a book search or help remembering the author or title of a book!

costello 5 years, 3 months ago

I've only had one bad customer service interaction at Half Price Books, but I have to admit it was spectacularly bad. There's nothing quite like speaking to another human being, several times and while they're looking directly at you, and having them simply not respond at all or acknowledge that you exist. Ugh!

Ken Lassman 5 years, 3 months ago

Hmm....never seen a moody college student/dropout before? Welcome to college town anywhere USA.

Folks on these comments are demonstrating the reality that small business owners are constantly aware of: the employee is the business' ambassador, and any personal quirkiness is attributed by the customer to the store itself, not the employee. It's really silly to do so, of course, but there it is. Some businesses tolerate quirkiness in order to get reliable employees; others don't. The fact that bookstore employees are sometimes moody and keep to themselves is probably perceived as an asset by many customers and obviously off-putting to others. My guess is that folks who are motivated to work hard and reliably at a bookstore are there because they love books, which means that they have an internal life and are content to keep to themselves when compared to the larger population.

I love both Half Price AND Dusty Bookshelf, by the way, and will make it a point to go to both more often.

Sue Grosdidier 5 years, 2 months ago

Those online purchases do not pay for your schools and community services. So sad that people do not think about buying locally.

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 3 months ago

I have always had good service at the store sorry you did not enjoy your visits there. I am going to miss this place.

Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

I won't miss them. I never felt like the prices were that great. Iv seen them buy books and offer sadly ridiculous amounts .also watched people selling get very angry. U prefere the dusty book shelf.

costello 5 years, 3 months ago

I love Half Price Books and detest The Dusty Book Shelf.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Good ole capitalism at work. The Dusty Bookshelf has always been a much better place for used books. They pay more for used books than 1/2 Price, and sell them for less. Also, their staff turnover is much lower, and its always nice to see the same faces when I visit them downtown. The only thing 1/2 Price had going for it was more convenient parking.

costello 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll miss Half Price Books. Sorry to see them go.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 3 months ago

mach, You are correct, although I can not state the bookstore has poor service. You are correct in a dirty little secret around here. People are not as friendly as other areas I've lived.

Of course not everybody, in fact there are a few very friendly business folks. I dropped nearly 50 bucks buying some suds for the big snow in. This is the conversation during the transaction, and I was actually looking for brands.

enter store.....nothing wander around looking.....nothing give the dude 50 bucks for brew........nothing walking out the door........have a good one

The tone of the......."have a good one" reminded me of the SNL stewardess skit.

Russell Fryberger 5 years, 2 months ago

I HATE hearing "have a good one" but it's so much easier for people to be robotic than spontaneous I guess that will be the parting line of choice for years to come. "no problem" is just as bad.

mom_of_three 5 years, 3 months ago

I liked half price books to buy puzzle books and its so much easier to find anything in the half price book store.

Tammy Yergey 5 years, 3 months ago

I would bet that main competitor is the online/electronic book option. Honestly, I would rather read on my Kindle than a physical book and I would bet I'm not the only one. Plus, I can get a book whenever I want without having to go to a book store. It is kind of sad, actually, but just a sign of the times.

bastet 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm sorry about Half-Price, but there are still three local bookstores in town: The Dusty Bookshelf, Signs of Life and The Raven Book Store. Always had good experiences with Dusty. I don't shop much at Signs of Life, but it seems like a good place. The folks at Raven are very customer-oriented. They will help you find what you want in the store or do their best to order it for you.

Frank A Janzen 5 years, 3 months ago

I have sometimes gone to the Raven and ordered a book that they didn't carry, and I got it later while supporting the Raven. You probably could have gotten a Gnostic book that way at the Raven.

Sherry Warren 5 years, 3 months ago

The new owners at Raven are very helpful and friendly. The old owners... notsomuch. Used to work downtown and lots of downtown business owners shopped with us. Most of them were rude, condescending, and took pride in humiliating us. MANY places downtown I won't spend money because of the nasty owners and how they treat people who are on the other side of service.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

Signs of Life is very limited. If you want a hundred books on Christianity, its a good place. But I asked there once about a zen based book and was told curtly that the only one they might have would be the one condemning heathen religions. Yuk.

Kyle Chandler 5 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

I am alllegric to a lot of cats but have never had any problem with the Dusty Bookshelf. I think all they have is one big old fat cat, and its never been a problem. But I understand all allergies are different.

Astrunk 5 years, 3 months ago

Alice is actually pretty skinny if you have petted her recently. She's getting up there in years however...

Christine Anderson 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, my son and I went in there last week, and poor little Alice has lost far too much weight, and her eyes are sunken in. Her human caregivers have already taken her to the vet; she has thyroid problems, and severe arthritis. Her poor little paws are crooked. She is 13 years old. But still the most gentle soul I've ever met in a bookstore, and never too busy to purr.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm very sorry for your loss, Liberal. I can't imagine a life without cats. Some of the best people I know are cats.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 3 months ago

Are you typing while bungee jumping? That's not safe.

letitrain 5 years, 3 months ago

If any one starts a petition to keep it open let us know. I love Half Price Books. I love tangible books at affordable prices. I love the random games, stationary, gifts you can find there. I love the friendly staff. I love that I don't have to battle Mass St traffic to visit a used bookstore. So if any one starts a petition or cash mob or something...let those of us who love this place know!

Kelly Cline 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes please, the lovely staff at Half Price Books would love to keep their jobs!

parrothead8 5 years, 3 months ago

I hate to say it, but this is kind of the reason why the place is closing: the "I love them, but someone else will save them" attitude. At this point, a petition isn't going to make up for all the purchases in the past that would have kept the place open.

Russell Fryberger 5 years, 2 months ago

How can you petition to keep a store open? I'm not being sarcastic here, that one went right over my head.

Aileen Dingus 5 years, 3 months ago

Sadness! I love Half Price and shop there often. I'll have to stock up before they head out.

I also go to Dusty Bookshelf, don't get me wrong- but Half Price is just... better.

DB has charm, but their filing system drives me nuts. "Oh yes- cookbooks are over there. And there. And on that table. And by the door. And under that stuff." If I'm looking for something specific, it is very frustrating. If I'm just browsing, it's heavenly.

fu7il3 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh my God! This is the worst news ever! All of my books are from there. I've probably got a small fortune in just Clearance items, not counting all of the other stuff I've bought from there. It's the only addiction I've got. Wow...

I don't like the Dusty Bookshelf. I can never find anything. All the books are just all over the floor, parking on Mass St. sucks, and their hours are a little more constraining. But seeing how it is that or Hastings, I guess I am screwed. Apparently, I am going to save some money this year.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

You could pick up the ebay habit, and stay broke!

tir 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, RATS. I really hate to see this happen. I go to Half-Price all the time for used and new books, cds and videos--it is so convenient to be able to browse for all three in one place. I can always find something good every time I go in, and I will really miss them! I like Dusty, too, and I go there often, but it is harder to find what I want, plus they don't carry any media items. I will really miss Half-Price, and I'm sorry they didn't get enough business to keep them here.

fu7il3 5 years, 3 months ago

I really feel for the people working there, too. I've never had anything but a good experience with them. When I come in with my five year-old, they are always very nice. I've gotten used to their faces. Sometimes, I just pop in to kill ten or fifteen minutes. I am going to miss that.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 3 months ago

instead of a petition, try drumming up some business for the folks. Most comments are about buying on the cheap. Borders go bye bye due to folks buying coffee and reading free mags.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 3 months ago

You do understand how store closings operate right? This isn't a government shut down where we can petition to have a city official change their mind. Some guy owns this place and isn't making money. Your petition doesn't make him any more money. Instead of wasting your time signing a petition, go spend some money there. THAT is how private industry works

lovespiders 5 years, 3 months ago

Well its a shame! The last decent bookstore to go hangout. I love Half Price and don't know what I'll do if they aren't here. I shop there almost every day and find something cool everytime I'm there. The staff is a great bunch of people and always help me find whatever I am looking for. They can even order stuff now from their other stores and I've used that too. I try and tell as many people as I can about them. Didn't know they'd been there for 10 years. Maybe they should advertise and tell people they are there. I don't think most people know about Half Price or even what it is. I still know people who have just found it and will be really sad to learn of its closing. I will be signing the petition for sure. People up in your corporate land.....we need this bookstore. Can't you figure out a way to stay? I won't be driving to Kansas City for your other stores, sorry, just too far.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 3 months ago

Everyday? When do you find time to read the books you purchase?

SpeedRacer 5 years, 3 months ago

I really like this store (except for its location) and have always preferred them over the other stores in town.

Tony Kisner 5 years, 3 months ago

With the new $18 mil. Library there is no need for private book sellers profiting from the masses.

letitrain 5 years, 3 months ago

wissmo - I agree with drumming up business. I frequent HPB and I speak highly of it to friends and family....but no harm in a petition in addition to that. Why not let corporate now how we feel and back that up with our patronage?

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

I love going to bookstores and browsing. I usually end up buying more than I planned. I have found a site I do love that I can trade my books on when I am done with them. It is not as satisfying as going to an actual bookstore and browsing but if I am looking for a specific book, I found it to be fairly decent.


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm so lazy that I buy books with a few keyclicks on ebay, and they're delivered. If they don't have a very obscure title that I'm looking for at the moment, I put it on saved search, and I'm notified as soon as someone lists it.

overthemoon 5 years, 3 months ago

remember that the people that work at half-price are local, they need the work and we need them working. I do search ABE and always try to buy from small booksellers if I can't find it locally.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

If they sold books for $1 to $4 + $3 shipping or less, no tax, plus they paid me $0.50/mile to get to their store and back home, which is what it costs, I would be very interested in shopping there.

Online shopping has fantastic advantages if you're on a budget. It's the future of retailing. Even Walmart is doing it now.

Mehriheart 5 years, 3 months ago

Love half-priced books, everyone who works there is always super helpful. I usually get my books from either there or The Raven.

Ray Petty 5 years, 3 months ago

I grew up in Dallas so I've known Half-Price Books for over 30 years. I don't go often, but when I do, I always find some interesting books and some are incredible bargains. Books are great gifts also, so come holiday season, I leave there with armsfull at a time. It is sad to see another bookstore vanish. I may give the Olathe store a chance, but to me it is so convenient on 23rd Street. I don't know how some of the commenters on here behave, but I've had no problem whatsoever with customer service. Some people, I guess, are just . . . too much!

Jean Robart 5 years, 3 months ago

I felt I was in Heaven when I discovered HPB. Their customer service at the beginning was really great. Not so much after the first few years. And when I took some hard cover books to them to buy, I was insulted when they offered me 50 cents apiece for books that I bought for at least $20 each. No more Half Price Books for me.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

I might have missed something, but I think I read most of the comments. Seems to me that I don't remember a single one that said, "It's a great place to sell books!"

Justreading 5 years, 3 months ago

It may be that Friends of the Library cuts into volume of both buying and selling at the Lawrence store.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 3 months ago

Harsh. I have to admit that I did not frequent there as much as I could have (because I always left with an armload of stuff). I'll miss 'em.

pace 5 years, 2 months ago

I liked the store and the employees were fine. They bought a wider selection of books than Dusty does. That is a good store too. I always thought half price should of done more advertising and spruced it up. They should understand, win your customers , treat them right, win them again and again. They just sat there. I will miss them.

Bob Forer 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes, they do buy a larger selection of books, but the amount they give you is paltry compared with Dusty. I once took two boxes into HP and they offered me $11 for all of them. Brought them into Dusty and received almost $40, and they didn't even take them all.

Pfeifer29 5 years, 2 months ago

I loved buying the $1 VHS about 8 years ago. I even found my dad an Elvis book he didn't own there. I will stop in a few times before closing day.

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