Third-Graders Help Save Florida Bookstore

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — When Shaina Belsky’s third-grade class found out that the city’s Barnes and Noble Bookstore was in danger of closing, they got to work, writing the CEO of the chain and begging him not to close.

The News-Journal reports that the kids on Florida’s east coast mailed a personal letter to Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros, who is based at the company’s New York City headquarters.

They even suggested alternative sites in the area and invited Parneros to come check them out.

“We recently learned that Barnes & Noble had lost its lease on your Daytona Beach store,” the letter read in colorful penmanship on poster-sized paper. “We are very sorry to hear that and very upset that we won’t be able to visit and shop and browse and learn new things. Some of us love your sale items (using math). Some like to study there and also eat there. … Please don’t leave us without our favorite book store!”

The students, encouraged by Belsky, even suggested alternative sites in the area and invited Parneros to come check them out.

“P.S.,” the students added. “If you come, we will take you to the beach with us and teach you how to surf!”

Parnros and his team listened.

Swayed by the Ormond Beach students’ love of books, company officials told the paper the corporate chief stepped in to ensure that Barnes & Noble’s Daytona Beach store and its landlord could find a way to extend the lease.

In encouraging her students to send a piece of urgent snail mail across the country, the veteran teacher hoped to illustrate to them that they have the power to make a difference so long as they convert their ideas into action.

“They just have to try,” said Belsky, who plans to retire this year after 34 years in classrooms. “They can make positive change for themselves and their community, and they just have to try.”

But that lesson ended up being an easy sell to Barnes & Noble’s leadership, who in exchange for a thoughtful letter shipped one of its executives to Tomoka Elementary on Friday morning so that students could be thanked individually. Some of the kids wore dresses, suit coats and ties for the occasion.

“When we got the letter, it was important to us, not only that we didn’t disappoint you but we didn’t disappoint the community,” Frank Morabito, vice president of retail operations at Barnes & Noble, told Belsky’s 17 third-graders while answering their questions about the retail store. “So we tried really hard to keep it open and this time we were able to.”