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Final Harry Potter book may hurry bookstore openings here Three new bookstores set to open in area later this year

Three new bookstores are expected to open in and near area malls sometime this year -- including the Walden Galleria and McKinley Mall -- and one insider hopes the pending, final Harry Potter book will prompt construction to go quickly.

"We're kind of trying to push for things because of Harry Potter," said Dawn Everett, community relations manager for the Amherst Barnes & Noble store. "It would be such a great thing to be able to be open."

Even though only the title -- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow" -- and not the release date has been formally announced, anticipation is causing excitement.

One rumor, Everett said, is that the seventh book by J.K. Rowling will come out in July, the seventh month of the year.

Barnes & Noble, the New York City-based, self-described "world's largest bookseller," has two local stores in the works, but without set completion dates. A banner of what the new two-story Barnes & Noble will look like is posted for people to see outside Cheektowaga's Galleria.

Hamburg's McKinley Mall expects construction of a smaller store to begin in the next couple of months. The mall's general manager Jeff Ohle said he hasn't had Harry Potter in mind, but hopes to have the new place, which will be bigger than the soon-to-close Waldenbooks there now, finished by summer. That time of year is an important prelude to the school and holiday shopping seasons.

"There's a lot happening around here these days," said Ohle. "We will bump out the mall in a similar fashion to what we did to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy."

The Borders Group, which owns Waldenbooks, said it will open a new 22,000-square-foot store this spring on Milestrip Road in the Quaker Crossing plaza in Orchard Park.

The company also announced it will close its Waldenbooks stores at the Main Place Mall in Buffalo and at the Galleria. Instead Borders will focus on its namesake bookstore nearby on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga.

"We feel like we're meeting the needs of the community," said Holley Stein, a spokeswoman for the Michigan-based company.

Already customers, excited at the prospect of a big, new Barnes & Noble, have talked to Everett about the Galleria store.

"They're calling to see why they can't enter the Barnes & Noble from inside the mall," she said. "It's the most life-like banner I have ever seen . . . The bricks look real."

The expanding mall, where a branch of the cosmetic store Sephora is also expected to open, has more new retail slated for its 35,000-square-foot addition with the 16-screen Regal Cinema.

A Barnes & Noble press release de
scribed its proposed Galleria store as having Wi-Fi, a bigger-than-average children's department and a "giant" newsstand.

The seventh and last book in the series by J.K. Rowling would help an expanded Barnes & Noble profit, said Everett.

The chain, which now has Amherst and Williamsville stores, could then spread its tradition of hosting parties with book characters in costume so young readers and their parents can better while away the hours as they wait for the traditional midnight sale time for new Harry Potter books.

"We already are planning it," said Everett, of the party. "It'll be a bang because it's her last book . . . We're usually here till morning. Last time I think we left at 4:30 in the morning."
e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com1

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