The line outside the new Barnes & Noble in Riverhead snaked around the building and looped back through the parking lot this morning as hundreds of people waited for the doors of the bookstore open for the first time. The grand opening event featured a meet-and-greet book signing with bestselling author Nelson DeMille.
DeMille, an action, adventure and thriller novelist whose stories often take place on Long Island, cut the red ribbon surrounded by the store’s staff and fans.
“Thank you all for coming,” DeMille said to the crowd. “Indeed, it’s been 14 years since the last Barnes & Noble has opened [on Long Island]. About 20 years ago I cut the ribbon for the one in Carle Place. This is my second ribbon cutting. I might not get it right,” he said to laughs.
“This is a great addition to the community. I come out here — I don’t have a house out here like the rich people,” DeMille joked. “Whether it’s the North Fork, South Fork, there have always been a lack of bookstores out here, and I know the community is going to support this place.”
Sarah deQuillfeldt, the store’s manager, thanked the local community for its support in opening the new store and for coming out on opening day.
“I would also like to just take a moment to mention my fabulous booksellers whose hard work, dedication and effort have really put the store together and allowed today to happen. So really, thank you to my wonderful team who’s here with me today,” deQuillfeldt said.
deQuillfeldt and the new store’s staff of 20 got the store set up and the shelves stocked in just over a week, the manager said in an interview this afternoon. “It was Friday, the 21st of October when we got into the building and we opened on Wednesday Nov.2, and we somehow almost had time to spare, because of our fantastic team working just so hard and diligently to get everything set up, with a ton of support from everybody across the island,” she said. “Really the great thing for us is we have connections to all the other stores. And we have had numerous team members, people from the home office here, working in the field with us, getting to know everyone. And that’s been really, really wonderful too.”
This is deQuillfeldt’s first position as a store manager. An assistant manager in the Carle Place Barnes & Noble for the past year, she’s worked for the company for 11 years, having started out as a seasonal bookseller in the Smith Haven Mall store 11 years ago — along with her assistant manager Erin Brady.
They made hiring local staff a priority and the manager said community input will help determine what books the store has on its shelves.
The offerings include everything from new releases and bestsellers to well-stocked history, horror and manga sections. There’s a children’s room and a robust young adults section as well. In addition to thousands of books, the store has a vinyl records section, as well as an assortment of magazines, journals, puzzles, sketch books, writing papers and greeting cards.
Barnes & Noble hosts a variety of different events, including book readings, discussions and signings with authors.
The store does not have a café, but customers should feel free to bring their own coffee or tea to enjoy while browsing, deQuillfeldt said.
“It’s been really exciting for us to get a chance to merchandise and to try and curate for what we hope our customers are looking to find,” deQuillfeldt said. The company emphasizes curating for the local customer, she said.
DeMille was still seated at a table just inside the front door at 2 o’clock today signing copies of his just-published new novel, “The Maze,” inspired by and based on the still-unsolved Gilgo Beach murders.
Many people in line this morning were there to meet the bestselling author and buy an autographed copy of his latest book.
Riverhead resident Janet Thomsen, new to the area, said she was excited that a bookstore is opening in town. “But especially meeting Nelson DeMille, my favorite author of all time,” Thomsen said. “I’ve probably been following him for the last 40 years. So I’m so excited to meet him in person today,” she said.
Bonnie Edwards of Riverhead also came to see DeMille. She had previously attended a signing with him, but had to go all the way out to the now-defunct Book Revue in Huntington. “So to be able to have something local and easier to get to it’s pretty cool,” she said.
“Just super excited to be here to meet Nelson DeMille and have another bookstore, we haven’t had one in a while, and super excited to be here. It’s great for the community,” said Stacey Salvatore of Hampton Bays.
An aide to DeMille said this afternoon that the crowd today was unusually large for a weekday morning book-signing event. “People out here are obviously really excited about this bookstore,” he said.
The Riverhead store is the 12th Barnes & Noble to open so far this year in a recently announced expansion by the retailer, the largest chain of retail bookstores in the United States.
The Riverhead store is located in the building previously occupied by Pier 1 Imports in the Riverhead Centre shopping plaza, across from DSW — the former home of a Borders Books & Music store that closed in 2011, when the multinational company went bankrupt.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Alek Lewis, Denise Civiletti and Courtney Blasl
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