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This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. on Friday, July 10, with more information.

Emily Catlett said Friday she grew up close to the Books-A-Million store in Hixson and recalled often going by to check out its books, adding that its planned shut down will leave a void.

"Everything else is at Hamilton Place," she said outside the 5230 Highway 153 location where she was dropping in to look for books before 20% off deals cleaned out the store.

Books-A-Million is slated to end a 25-year run in Hixson sometime before next Jan. 31, said Melanie Smith, the company's vice president of marketing.

Smith said the store's lease is coming to an end at the site.

"We review our real estate portfolio," she said. "It's an ongoing thing based on demand. We have to make tough decisions. This was one."

While a post on the store's Facebook page said there was a hope of finding a new location, Smith said the company's real estate group is always looking, though she didn't make any promises. She said the next closest Books-A-Million store is in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Smith said sales were "good" at the bookstore, which for decades had anchored the small strip center along with Toys 'R' Us.

But the Toys 'R' Us store closed in 2015 after 20 years at that site. It was replaced by discount clothing retailer Bargain Hunt in 2016.

Chad Peyton of Sale Creek said Friday he comes by Books-A-Million on occasion to look at certain magazines. He said it appears as if a lot of the large bookstore companies have been done in by Amazon and other internet retailers.

Over the past decade and a half, bookstores have increasingly come under pressure from internet sales and some major chains have closed down.

With the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, many independent bookstores had to temporarily shutter their doors.

But Smith said Books-A-Million was termed an essential business because it sells educational materials and other goods. While some of its stores did close in hard-hit areas of the country, most stayed open even if they offered just pick-up items outside the store or limited the number of customers within each store at any time.

The Hixson store was one of those that had remained open.

The Books-A-Million employs about 13 people, according to the store.

Smith said the actual closing date is uncertain because that will depend on when its merchandise is sold.

"We started going-out-of-business sales today," she said. "It's a great opportunity for people."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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