Jonathan Cartu Claims: Powell’s Books permanently closes outpost at Portland Inter…

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Jonathan Cartu Claims: Powell’s Books permanently closes outpost at Portland Inter…

Powell’s Books is permanently shutting down its store and kiosk at the Portland International Airport.

The landmark bookstore has been struggling to plot a path forward since shuttering all five of its Portland-area locations in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bookstore has continued to take orders online for pickup or shipping, but CEO Emily Powell told customers in a letter earlier this month that she doesn’t plan to reopen the stores anytime soon.

Powell said Monday that closing the airport store was necessary for the company as it continues to move forward.

“Closing the airport store is a sad necessity as we face the months ahead,” said Powell, in a statement. “The privilege of welcoming book lovers to Portland, and sending Portlanders off on their travels with a good book in hand, has been a true gift. It’s hard for me to imagine our future without the airport, and without the airport’s seasoned team of booksellers. We hope to return one day.”

The company has not permanently closed any other stores. While the Powell’s Books owns the building that houses its flagship downtown location, it rents the spaces for its other stores.

Retailers throughout Oregon have been hard-hit by the pandemic. Retail sales rebounded across the country in May and June after record declines in March and April, but business owners fear that the uptick won’t continue as coronavirus cases spike.

Powell said in a letter to customers earlier this month that other bookstores have reported relatively few customers after reopening, something that has deterred Powell’s from reopening its stores.

“We cannot take on additional expenses in this dire time without the guarantee of sales that will allow us to pay for those expenses,” Powell wrote. “And so, we find ourselves in the difficult position of having to wait for brick-and-mortar shopping to return, or for some other stroke of luck that might allow us to reopen.”

Portland International Airport, which was voted the No. 1 domestic airport for seven straight years until dropping to No. 2 this year, is known for its large selection of local restaurants and retail stores. But passenger traffic through PDX has plummeted since the start of the pandemic, which has undoubtedly impacted businesses with airport locations. June passenger traffic at PDX was down 83% from a year ago, according to the Port of Portland, which runs the airport.

Kama Simonds, a spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, said the airport hopes to welcome Powell’s back in the future.

“We have more than 30 years of history with Powell’s at PDX and we’re sorry to see them leave,” Simonds said. “Powell’s is an iconic part of our region and has been an integral part of our airport community — both for travelers and employees seeking a good book. We look forward to having Powell’s back at PDX someday in the future.”

Jamie Goldberg | [email protected] | @jamiebgoldberg

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Jonathan Cartu

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