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Final Chapter: Mendham Books to Close in March

Community staple can't come to terms on new lease, owner says.

Have you ever read a book that you wish wouldn’t end? And when no sequel is announced, you’re heartbroken?

That story is becoming reality at Mendham Books, a staple of the community for 17 years. 

Owner Tom Williams has announced the store will be closing in mid-March after the business and landlord of Kings Shopping Plaza could not come to terms on a new lease.

Known for its local feel and ability to serve the community’s reading needs through the various changes in media over the years, Mendham Books offered a selection for readers of all ages, and was a major part of the neighborhood’s story.

“We try and do our best,” for the customers, Williams said. “Right now we’re focusing on closing out the shop and putting on huge sales for customers to come and get some last items. And we’d love to say hello to everyone, too.”

Williams said one of his favorite parts of being in the community on a daily basis was watching the town – and its members – grow.

“We’d watch kids come in strollers, and see them buy board books,” Williams said. “Next thing you know, those same kids are in buying the latest teen fad, like Hunger Games or whatever the hot seller was.”

Mendham showed itself as a tight-knit community, Williams said, and became so close with some customers that he’s attended funerals.

The bookstore was also known for its ability to bring in local authors as well as celebrities for signings and readings, from Caroline Kennedy to countless athletes, both retired and active. When asked which, if any, were his favorite memories, Williams admitted there were too many to count.

“It would be like saying which of your children you liked better,” he said. “There were so many great memories.”

While the chapter of Mendham Books in the Kings Shopping Plaza winds to its final few sentences, the story may not be over. Williams said the business is keeping its email distribution list and accounts open.

“Right now we need to just catch our breath (with the closing),” he said. “But for future plans, we just don’t know yet.”

While this book is coming to an end, the story may not be over.

Susan Nagel-Rees February 05, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Very sad
ron simpson February 05, 2014 at 11:31 AM
another landlord dispute, another jewel of the community gone. let me guess what's next...another bank!
Community Member February 05, 2014 at 11:37 AM
We don't need another nail salon or bank! We have one bookstore here in town adding character and charm. Tell your neighbors and speak up! If this is simply a landlord dispute, perhaps they can be brought to reason by the voices of we the patrons. This is a terrible development for the town. A bookstore says so much about what we value!
Joan Morrison Vince February 05, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Noooooooo. Please don't close! Best book store ever! Awesome book signings! So sad!
MMM February 05, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Speak up! YES! I will do anything to keep this wonderful store in our community!
Shoeless Joe February 05, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Get "Books" out of the store name.
Jeff Cotton February 05, 2014 at 12:54 PM
Terrible news! The people of Mendham are the reason any of the businesses in the Mall are successful. Mendham Books should bring the details of the rent negotiation to light of the people here. If we see that the rent demanded is not in line with the market..... Then we should boycott the bully landlord's property all together. This will entice the other businesses to put pressure back on the landlord. JJC
Marie B February 05, 2014 at 12:58 PM
I hope the landlord reads the comments here and reconsiders. Mendham will not be same without our bookstore.
Peekaboo February 05, 2014 at 02:26 PM
New mall owner plans renovations Quoting From Observer Tribune: "01/26/2006 MENDHAM - Roxiticus Road resident Thomas Maoli, the new owner of the Mendham Village Shopping Center, says he will renovate the center as "the pinnacle of one of the most prestigious and affluent towns in the country." Maoli, representing V Fee Realty Investment, LLC, purchased the shopping center on Dec. 20, he said. He declined to say the purchase price and the deed indicating the purchase price was not available. He said he plans to spend several million dollars renovating the property with an equestrian motif. "This should be a place that people want to go to walk from store to store doing all of their daily shopping," said Maoli. "It's a place where they meet neighbors. I want people to feel proud of being a part of the Mendham community." A new lighting system and a new clock tower are some of the ideas he plans to share with the borough, Maoli said. "I plan to work closely with them (officials) to make this happen," Maoli said. The center was formerly owned by the Michas family and Maoli said they did wonders with the shopping center but "it's time for a change." Maoli, a real estate investor and president of Flash Global Logistics in West Orange, owns other office parks and shopping centers. Among those, he owns the Kings Shopping Center on Powerville Road in Mountain Lakes and a market on Plainsboro Road, Princeton. "The shopping center needs to be upgraded and I'm very privileged to have the opportunity," Maoli said." V-FEE REALTY INVESTMENT LLC 85 ROXITICUS RD FAR HILLS, NJ 07931 Tom Maoli Phone: (908) 470-0254
Mark Lipinski February 05, 2014 at 02:52 PM
Thanks for the article, Peekaboo! The operative word in the article is "Investment." Investment organizations taking over anything always leads to destruction of any humanity or art. Does anyone really care about an equestrian motif (even in "one of the most prestigious and affluent towns in the country?"). LOL How ridiculous. Can you only imagine the new shops going in there? Maybe Mr. Maoli should take a look at the ghost town called, "The Streets of Chester."
Henry Krinkle February 05, 2014 at 04:36 PM
The equestrian look was cleverly designed to entice folks driving through the King's parking lot to look upward so they would not notice the giant pot hole that was swallowing up their vehicle.
Wendy Witterschein February 05, 2014 at 10:41 PM
We love our bookstore, and the people that work there. They have been a fine part of our community. There are so few independent booksellers left; I don't understand why the new owner does not recognize this jewel of our Village Shopping Center crown.
Harold Davis February 06, 2014 at 05:50 AM
Favorite place to visit when in Mendhan to see family. Hope you can keep it going somehow. Best of luck!
Warren Bobrow February 06, 2014 at 07:20 AM
I did a book signing this past fall for my book, Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives From Yesterday and Today. As a local author, I'm saddened by the departure by Mendham Books. As an author, we never want to see a book store close. Mendham Books is a gem amongst book stores and this store in particular will be sorely missed, all in the name of corporate greed.
Renee Vaccaro February 06, 2014 at 11:57 AM
What a great loss to the Mendham and Chester communities! Once again an amazingly wonderful independent shop owner has fallen victim to greed!! The loss will also be felt by the local schools as owner Tom Williams provided an invaluable service in supplying books at a discount and never charging shipping! I sincerely hope the residents are successful in fighting this unfair landlord! RV
BerniesBarStool February 06, 2014 at 12:48 PM
The whole shopping center in Mendham is a joke. I don't know how any smart business owner can make a go of it in there obviously they can't. The two oldest establishments in there are the Wicker Basket and the Liquor Store both opened in the 60's and have survived....The smart ones may have been Mendham Plywood when they built their own place out in back....before that they were where the Chinese place used to be.....Time marches on and on....no bakery,no bookstore...
claudia whiteley February 06, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Our students love to leave the Karate school, and walk a couple of doors down and browse, talk and buy books there. They were always excited to tell me about who they met and had sign their books,... an amazing array of authors have graced those doors to enormous response. I will truly miss the book store, the owners and the feel of having a book store in the mall. Most of the comments hit right on it. 1. It is so difficult to stay afloat in that mall, and 2. the charm is being compromised. Tom, your loss is our loss. claudia
Jane B. MacNeil February 06, 2014 at 07:45 PM
It will be a SAD day when we no longer have Mendham Books at the shopping center. They have brought SO much to Mendham not only with the wide array of books they have but also with the authors they've brought in for book signings. I join MANY in hoping you all will find a more compatible "home". We'll ALL be there welcoming you back! Jane MacNeil
lwf February 06, 2014 at 08:44 PM
What we value says it all! As a community, we clearly value Tom and Mendham Books. Not so Mr. Maoli? It's inconceivable that a landlord would drive out a thriving independent book store that brings people to the shopping center. What can he be thinking? How can he see the loss of Mendham Books as a positive development? How can we put pressure on him without hurting the other tenants? Don't buy your Lexus from him (130 Route 10, Whippany) for starters. Mendham Books we love you!
delwood dame February 07, 2014 at 06:51 AM
Mendham Books is one of the most charming places. The owners are very creative in driving traffic with wide variety of book signings, etc. It would be a loss. We would love have them in Chester. I hope the new owners vision isn't all cosmetic. There's more than that to be successful. They have to work out some sort of grandfather clause or arrangement if mendham books wants to stay. Both the Chesters and Mendham need them!
Sir February 07, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Waiting for the Dems to blame Chris Christie on this one...stay tuned to MSNBC tonight for BREAKING NEWS on the newest Christine scandal.
L Lowe February 07, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Mendham Books is by far the most mentioned business when there is ever any feature on the borough or Mendham in general. It's a part of the fabric of town. People may not realize what a feat it is to have had all the amazing authors they've secured. The same ones the big chain bookstores have. Can't believe V-FEE Realtors and Tom Maoli think charging such an egregious amount for rent helps "keep the center a place for neighbors to meet." Perhaps it just helps "keep Maoli wealthy and disinterested" in the actual tenants. Where is the council on this?
kittykitty February 07, 2014 at 11:22 AM
This is such a sad state of affairs in the Mendhams. I was in the store yesterday and every person expressed their sorry to Tom and the staff. If only the landlord had the guts to show his face and see the devastation he's wrought with his money-hungry demands on the tenants of the shopping center. Does anyone not consider that if the stores that provide our towns with a certain feel, charm and spot to gather and see your neighbors move out, what will happen to our real estate values?
Peekaboo February 07, 2014 at 01:57 PM
Perhaps it is time for Tom Maoli to put his money where his mouth is and reconsider the terms of his lease for the bookstore. When he said "It's a place where they meet neighbors. I want people to feel proud of being a part of the Mendham community." I think he forgot about his good intentions. Our Mendham Books was just that place. We met at book signings and gathered at the end of the school year to buy our children's summer reading books. At vacation time we bought our travel guides and if you forgot a birthday, it was easy to pop in, buy a book and get it wrapped at the same time. Mendham Books has been part of the community for a very long time and it will be with very heavy heart when we have to say goodbye...:(

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