Bookstore Will Take Over Yale Co-Op

The Yale Co-op, the largest retailer in New Haven, will be replaced with a new Barnes & Noble bookstore offering more books and longer hours and still stocking some everyday items needed by students.

The Co-op's lease on the 59,000-square-foot space expires in June, and Barnes & Noble will open in late summer after a $1.5 million renovation.

Founded in 1885, the Yale Co-op is the second oldest university store in the country after the Harvard Coop.

The recent move comes as part of Yale's attempt to bring in more recognized brand-name stores to economically-depressed downtown New Haven.

The Barnes & Noble store will be the major tenant in the Broadway district of the city, which is now home to an Au Bon Pain cafe, a record store and other small shops. Other recent changes to the district have included repairs to the light fixtures and streets.

But New Haven has not seen the end of the Co-op.

"We have every intention of having a new home and have been actively seeking that home for some time," Harry Berkowitz, president of the Yale Co-op, told the Associated Press.

The Yale Co-op's troubles resemble similar problems encountered by the Harvard Coop. Both campus institutions are part department store and part convenience mart; both have been casualties of a changing business climate.

About 15,000 Yale affiliates pay the Co-op $5 a year or $15 for a lifetime membership and receive rebates from profits. Members of the Harvard Coop pay a $1 annual fee in exchange for a rebate.

But both businesses have been suffering recently--Yale's Co-op has given one rebate in the last five years, and Coop members have seen nothing in three years.

The Harvard Coop has not yet met as drastic a fate as its Yale counterpart.

Barnes & Noble, which operates more than 200 campus bookstores around the country, agreed last year to take over management of the Harvard Coop. The store has retained the Coop name, however.

Yale hopes the new Barnes & Noble store will help to revitalize the night life on Broadway, which separates the university from a more impoverished section of the city.

"Their agreement to stay open in the evenings for the first two years of their lease gives us the opportunity to build a base of shoppers...in the evening; contribute significantly to the vibrancy of the shopping district; and improve the general safety of the neighborhood," Rusty Tilney, director of Yale University properties, told the Associated Press