Community / News / January 15, 2009

Burning stations, closing bookstores

Over winter break one business disappeared from the community, and before the month was out, a second was to follow. A week before Christmas on Dec. 19th, the gas station on Losey st. burnt down. Around 1 a.m., a police officer driving past the station noticed smoke curling around a neon sign at the front, and after phoning it in and waiting outside heard a small explosion and then saw flames. Most students will recognize this gas station as the one facing Family Video.

During the fire itself an ice-storm hampered the efforts of the Galesburg Police Department. Fortunately for the firefighters, the gas pumps have many safety features built in to prevent additional danger in the case of a fire and the pumps themselves were empty. They are far enough underground that the air and heat required to ignite any gasoline-air mix would not have been present.

“We were surprised at how rapidly the fire spread,” Galesburg Fire Department Battalion Chief Ted Hoffman told the Register-Mail. “It indicated to us the fire had been burning for some time.” The store, managed by Madhav Rao, 31, was classified as a total loss, approximating $234,000 in damages.

Waldenbooks in the Carl Sandburg Mall will also be disappearing, though in a much less dramatic fashion. For the past year the parent-company of Borders Group has been closing down all of their Waldenbooks subsidiaries, shuttering nearly 200 in the first half of 2008 and going through the list of locations throughout the rest of this year. Galesburg’s bookstore is next.

Open only through Jan. 24th, everything is on sale for at least 25 percent off and some racks hold shelves of books marked down to half-price. As the closing weeks of the store approach, the sales will only increase.

Ironically, the death-knell of the store has created some of the busiest weeks for Waldenbooks within recent memory as shoppers rush to empty the store of it’s now even more reasonably priced merchandise. With the withdrawal of Waldenbooks, and no current plans for replacing it with another Borders subsidiary, Inner Wisdom on Kellog St., Christian bookstore Brighter Life Bookshoppe, the Galesburg Public library and the internet will become the last remaining large repositories of books in Galesburg that are not a part of the Knox Campus.

David Nolan


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