Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which plans to open a store in Pittsburgh, Pa., this fall, has closed one of its two Cleveland area locations. On July 11, the chain closed its Shaker Heights store, an anchor for Shaker Square, a shopping district that has fallen on hard times and had a rapid turnover in tenants in the past two years.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Shaker Heights opened in the fall of 2000. A second Cleveland area Joseph-Beth bookstore, located at Legacy Village in nearby Lyndhurst, opened last October.

Joseph-Beth at Shaker Square had struggled for much of its tenure. In the beginning, it encompassed 36,000 square feet of space, including a large children's area and a bistro. Although business was strong the first year, sales dropped and the store shrunk in size. First, the children's wing closed; the music section was the next to go; and the bistro closed down last January. When the store shut its doors for good on Sunday, July 11, it was down to 12,000 square feet of retail space and 12 employees. Most of those employees are being transferred to the 28,500-square-foot Lyndhurst location.

In a letter handed out at the cash register to customers on the store's last day, Joseph-Beth Group owner Neil Van Uum cited the lack of vitality at Shaker Square as a major factor in his decision to shut down this Joseph-Beth location. "Through the past few years, as the Square has declined, so has our ability to do business in this location," Van Uum wrote. A discount coupon for the Lyndhurst store was attached to each letter.

Following the closing of the Shaker Heights store, Joseph-Beth Booksellers has just one other location in Ohio besides its Lyndhurst store: the flagship store in Cincinnati. There also is a Joseph-Beth in Lexington, Ky. The Joseph-Beth Group owns three Davis-Kidd stores in Tennessee, in Nashville, Memphis and Jackson. A fourth Davis-Kidd bookstore, in Knoxville, closed in January 2000.