Books-A-Million set to close in Jackson; city leaders worried about tax revenue

The bookstore has been a staple along I-55 for years. Now customers are saying their goodbyes.
Books-a-Million set to close in Jackson.
Books-a-Million set to close in Jackson.(WLBT)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A major staple of I-55 is shutting its doors, as evidenced by book lovers cleaning off the shelves at the Books-a-Million bookstore.

The store, located in the same shopping center as Kroger, announced its closure recently, leaving some Jackson city officials worried about its impact on sales tax revenues for the capital city.

“I’m really disappointed that they are closing down their operation there,” Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote said.

A sign outside the store states that the retailer will officially close its doors on October 31. A manager told 3 On Your Side the store could close sooner.

Foote says the store has been having a hard time making sales.

“I know the chain itself is having a difficult time competing with the online retailers like Amazon and those types of operations,” he said. “We need to find a replacement for that so we can keep our shopping centers viable and attractive to shoppers around the metro area.”

“It obviously has an impact on tax revenue. I don’t know the dollar amount,” he continued. “That’s one reason why we got to keep a great commerce going across the city of Jackson.”

Through February, Jackson’s sales tax revenues were down nearly $672,000 compared to the same period last year.

Department of Revenue reports show that between July 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023, diversions to the city totaled $20,775,233.66, a decrease from the $21,446,863.06 for the same time in 2021-22.

Meanwhile, other cities in the metro area are seeing economic growth. Ridgeland’s sales tax revenues are up nearly $767,000 over the previous year, while Flowood’s are up by nearly $514,000.

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee credits his city’s success to pro-business and pro-quality business policies.

Sales tax diversion to citiesThrough February 2023Through February 2022Difference

“We have some of the finest restaurants in the state of Mississippi, so people want to dine here,” he said. “I think it’s significant that Northpark has made a tremendous, multimillion-dollar investment three years ago to bring Northpark up to a high standard. Of course, the Renaissance and the Township are doing well.”

Last year, Topgolf announced it would be bringing its first location to Mississippi to a site north of the Renaissance at Colony Park.

The two-level venue is expected to feature 60 climate-controlled outdoor hitting bays, drinks, music and year-round programming.

Byram also has seen an increase in sales tax diversions year over year. However, Mayor Richard White says numbers are not as high as they should be due to the impact Jackson’s water crisis had on local businesses.

“Taco Bell, Captain D’s, Wendy’s... were all closed three days,” he said. “They went out Saturday morning and came back Monday.”

“It’s a struggle every day with the water deal.”

He hopes numbers will increase in the coming months now that several new restaurants have come online and once a new Tractor Supply Company opens its doors.

While Books-a-Million’s doors are still open, customers are flocking to take advantage of going-out-of-business sales.

“I’ve been here a couple of times now to kind of stock up while I can on some books to take advantage of some closing deals,” Ashley Thornton said.

On Tuesday, the store was filled with longtime customers to get what was left.

And they admit they’re shocked and saddened to see the store closing.

“I’m disappointed that it’s not going to be here anymore,” Thornton said.

Books-a-Million has 260 stores in 32 states and Washington D.C., according to its website. Its roughly 25,000-square-foot Jackson location opened in November 1992, according to a Clarion-Ledger article from that year.

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