Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 45
 
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
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Shopping Center Bookstore Goes Postal, Reintroducing Much-Valued Tradition

Matthew Hersh

Change at the Princeton Shopping Center does not always bode well for its customers.

Take the Princeton Public Library. In 2003, the library closed its temporary branch after its new facility was completed. When it packed up and reopened on Witherspoon Street, some Shopping Center patrons were left feeling a void.

Or what about the Arts Council of Princeton? Will the Shopping Center feel similar fallout when the Arts Council’s conTEMPORARY Arts departs for its new facility nearing completion at the corner of Paul Robeson Place and Witherspoon Street in downtown Princeton?

While it’s too soon to be sure, one community asset is reemerging as Chicklet Books, the “fun and funky” book boutique that opened in August following the closing of Chestnut Tree Books, plans to reopen the contract postal unit. The unit has become a Shopping Center tradition, bouncing from store to store, while providing a service to patrons.

The training, while the staff takes it seriously, cannot be described without some chuckling. Store owner Deb Hunter, who is listed as “top banana” in the Chicklet business plan, and her daughter Stephanie Kleier, or “heiress,” have finished studying their manual, but “we have not touched the machine yet,” said Ms. Hunter, who also owns Glen Echo Books in downtown Princeton and a Chicklet store in Hillsborough. “It’s been a long week,” Ms. Kleier quipped.

But all kidding aside, the mother-daughter team understands what the store is inheriting. When Chicklet entered the fray in August, essentially taking over the abruptly closed Chestnut Tree Books, it absorbed Chestnut’s book stock, as well as the postal unit.

From a business standpoint, it’s unclear as to how the presence of the postal unit will translate into sales, but Ms. Hunter said that her store is “community-based” and that including the post office “comes with the territory.

“This is something that the community needs, and if we can help out that way, then great,” Mr. Hunter said. “This is a community shopping center and this is a community post office.”

But it’s a shrewd piece of business maneuvering as well. Because the post office is a business within a business, Chicklet can up-sell package goods and other items related to gift packaging.

Of course, Ms. Kleier was first to underscore the importance of the post office there, repeating a claim offered by a myriad of customers that “there’s no parking at the other post office,” referring to the “other” in-town location.

The post office “should” be open this week, Ms. Hunter said, joking that only if all goes well with training.

———

Chicklet Books is also preparing a fire sale of sorts, expunging a large piece of inventory that the store inherited when Chestnut closed. On Thursday, November 15, store friends and local patrons can take home books for $1 a piece. Then on Friday, November 16, the “vultures,” or the online sellers, will swoop in. On November 17, all fire sale selections will be 50 cents per book, and after that, it’s “five dollars per bag,” Ms. Hunter said.

For more information on Chicklet Books, visit www.chickletbooks.com.

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