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Binny's eyes fall opening at Crystal Lake Barnes & Noble site

Liquor store eyes fall opening at current Barnes & Noble site

Binny’s Beverage Depot is one step closer to offering wine, spirits and beer to area residents.

The Crystal Lake City Council unanimously voted to provide the establishment a liquor license when it opens in the fall.

The store will occupy the space currently housing the Barnes & Noble bookstore at 5380 Route 14.

Binny’s CEO Michael Binstein said he hopes to open before the holiday season. He said he’s been working to open a Binny’s in Crystal Lake for more than a decade.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said after the meeting. “I’m excited.”

Mayor Aaron Shepley said he has “zero problem” with the retailer moving into the space the Barnes & Noble will vacate when its lease is up in the coming months. He emphasized that the city does not own the property, and in a “free-market system,” businesses close and open based on factors outside of the city’s control.

“We don’t decide the market, and we’re happy to have new businesses in town,” Shepley told the council. “Anybody who wants to compete in any venue can basically do it.”

In addition to package sales, the retailer plans to host events with the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, according to city documents.

“Education is big,” Binstein said, adding that he’s grateful for the opportunity to educate residents about new products. “We’re known for innovation.”

Although hundreds of people have expressed sadness that the county’s largest bookstore will close, no one from the public spoke out against Binny’s plans during the meeting Tuesday.

McHenry County already is home to two Binny’s: one in McHenry, 4610 W. Elm St., and another in Algonquin,
844 S. Randall Road.

On Monday, Crystal Lake Economic Development Manager Heather Maieritsch said Barnes & Noble may open a smaller location in the city, but nothing concrete has been presented.

Maieritsch said the retailer is experimenting with smaller stores across that nation that have “a different feel and experience, but still have what they’re known for: the ability to buy books.”

In a 2018 letter to shareholders, Barnes & Nobles founder and chairman Leonard Riggio said the company plans to “reimagine our bookstores in the form of a smaller footprint” to better serve customers and make up for the decline in retail traffic.

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