Citing rising rents, the bookstore chain announced it would close its location on March 8 at Rice Village, at 2537 University Blvd. The 11,300 square-foot store had been open since 1982.
“While we would love to stay in our current location, rent costs in the area have gone up to the point where we can no longer afford to stay,” wrote Monica Schultz, the chain’s Texas regional manager, in an announcement to the store’s website. “Although we’ve looked for another location nearby, we have yet to find a financially viable option.”
The store had cleared much of its inventory before its last day. Between March 2-6, the store offered 75% off everything in its store.
Within the last couple of weeks, the store has seen lines of customers purchasing books and other items in the store, said Chance, a manager on duty at the store on March 8 who preferred being identified by his first name alone.
“A lot of customers have been coming in to say goodbye to us,” he said. “As well as get good deals. Customers have been willing to wait in line.”
One of those customers was Erica Hubbard, who works as a librarian at Houston Community College. Hubbard had been coming to the Rice Village bookstore since 2013 after she moved back to the Houston area, and had shopped at the bookstore before her move.
“It’s a shame,” she said. “I think the store in terms of selection is one of the best because of the variety it offers.”
As a librarian, Hubbard has seen the changes in how people are reading their content.
“People are still reading, but just differently,” she said. “Having places like this helps literacy and shapes an educated society.”
Half Price Books does have eight other area stores, including a Montrose location at 1011 Westheimer Rd., Houston, and a Kirkwood location at 11960 Westheimer Road, Houston.
Anything purchased at the Rice Village store can still be returned at the chain’s other Houston-area locations, and coupons and gift cards can be used at any brick-and-mortar stores, Schultz wrote in her announcement.