Hampered by COVID-19 and the viability of many of its outlets, a family-owned Pittsburgh area chain of book stores is closing, including its Indiana Mall location, after a liquidation sale scheduled to begin Friday.
In turn that brings, at least for now, an end to four decades of book sales in the White Township mall, 10 of those years by Bradley’s Book Outlets.
“The past couple of years have been a struggle with the stores overall not producing a profit,” Mike Paper said in announcing the closing of the Bradley’s chain, which had grown to eight stores in 27 years.
“I was OK with that for several reasons,” Paper said of keeping stores open despite the lack of a profit. “First and foremost it kept the jobs of the people I admire and respect, which is what makes this such a difficult decision.”
Bradley’s Book Outlet has its main office in Blawnox, Allegheny County.
It focused on bringing bestsellers at bargain prices, with more than 90 percent of its inventory consisting of publisher overstocks and remainders, allowing customers to purchase popular authors and unique finds at deep discounts.
On Aug. 24, 2010, Indiana Mall officials said they had signed a long-term lease with Bradley’s, for a store in the spot formerly leased by book retailer Borders Express, which closed in January 2010 after 30 years in the mall.
That chain’s corporate leadership was undertaking a downsizing project, refocusing its efforts on larger malls.
Bradley’s moved in during the fall of 2010, remaining there through the COVID-19 pandemic that forced it to close from March 19 until June 5.
“Due to the virus and the viability of many of our malls, we have reached a point where the stores are losing money and I don’t see a path forward for a turnaround,” Paper said.
In addition to Indiana Mall, Bradley’s had locations in Nittany Mall near State College, Logan Valley Mall near Altoona, Cranberry Mall near Franklin, DuBois Mall, Grove City Premium Outlets, Pittsburgh Mills near Tarentum and Uniontown Mall.
Pandemic-related restrictions remain a factor at Indiana Mall. Manager Sherry Renosky said those limitations forced cancellation of a back-to-school fashion event last weekend.
On the other hand, food trucks have been making regular stops at the mall. Listings can be found on the mall’s Facebook page.