Durham prepares to bid farewell to bookshop

Staff WriterFebruary 6, 2009 

Durham is getting ready to say goodbye to a landmark bookshop.

The Book Exchange was started back in the 1930s by then-barber W.M. Marley.

"He just kind of started out with a stack of books as a college student," said Fran Feinberg, Marley's daughter, who owns the shop with her brother.

"Sometimes kids couldn't afford a haircut, so they'd give him an old textbook."

Over the years, the store moved from Chapel Hill to Durham and expanded to its current 12,000 square feet and two floors at 107 W. Chapel Hill St.

For the past three years, sales have suffered because of the slowing economy, competition from booksellers online and cutthroat pricing from Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco and others.

"This was a very tough decision to close, but it was a business decision," said Feinberg, who works in Florida as a lawyer.

Closing the shop means closing a chapter in the history of her family, Feinberg said. W.M. Marley passed away in 1988.

"My dad built all those shelves," she said. "When you walk in, the ghost of my dad is right there."

Feinberg said her family owns one of the three buildings that currently house the store. That 7,000-square-foot building is now up for sale.

The final day of business for The Book Exchange will be Valentine's Day.

In Chapel Hill, there are some new leases for the retail portion of the East 54 development under construction on N.C. 54. The project, which includes retail, office and residential, should see its first retail tenants open this fall.

The Morrisville restaurant Saffron is planning to open a new location in September or October. Thai Oishi will begin serving Thai food and sushi next year. And Kerr Drug will open in late fall.

There are a few things going on at the Pavilion Shopping Center at Spring Forest Road and Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh.

Champagne Taste Consignment has opened, selling ladies' clothing, shoes, accessories and some home furnishing items.

And Snoopy's is expanding into the neighboring space that used to be a travel agency. The spot will house seating for about 50 people, adding indoor seating to the restaurant. Once the permits are received, it will take two or three months to complete.

At North Hills in Raleigh, the long-vacant Storehouse will soon become an Ethan Allen store. The parent company of Storehouse went bankrupt and liquidated its stores in 2006.

Since then, the North Hills spot has been vacant, despite its prime location along Lassiter Mill Road. The Ethan Allen should open in late September or early October.

In Cary, Traditional Terre is closing after nearly a decade. The women's fashion and accessories store in MacGregor Village at 107 Edinburgh South Drive will be open at least through the end of February. It might reopen, but no new spot has been selected yet.

OTHER ITEMS: Raleigh Rug Co. is going out of business at 8411 Glenwood Ave. ... In Raleigh's Tarrymore Shopping Center off Capital Boulevard, a South American restaurant called Casa Nova will open this summer., 919-829-4649 or

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