Leighton Barracks' Book Mark set to close in October
Stars and Stripes August 5, 2006
WüRZBURG, Germany — She’ll do it if she has to, but Army Sgt. Lela Navarro isn’t too wild about buying books online. She likes to physically browse for hard copies and discover new titles.
So when Navarro was told Thursday that the Book Mark here on Leighton Barracks would be closing its doors in October, her response was predictable. “I know a lot of people in the area that are readers like me,” she said. “And they’re going to be very unhappy.”
As Army transformation continues to relocate soldiers and families out of the Franconia region this summer, bases are shutting down. And Army and Air Force Exchange Service business are either closing down or reducing their hours.
A smaller version of the Book Mark’s content will be consolidated into the Post Exchange across the street at Leighton, said Stan McGhee, an AAFES regional manager.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of consolidations,” McGhee said this week. “It’s not what you’d consider a closure.”
The Book Mark space will become the new furniture store, McGhee said, and the current furniture store will be used for storage. Other AAFES-operated businesses, such as restaurants and other retail stores, will reduce their hours in the coming months.
U.S. Army Garrison Franconia, which includes Würzburg, Kitzingen and Giebelstadt, is slated to lose about 4,000 soldiers once transformation movements are completed later this year, leaving about 500 soldiers at Würzburg, said Don Klinger, a garrison spokesman. Garrison officials estimate that there will be about 1,200 family members with those 500 soldiers.
Bases at Kitzingen and Giebelstadt are slated to close later this year, and most AAFES operations there have already ceased. Those bases will be handed back to the Germans later this year as well.
AAFES operational hours — and whether certain operations stay open — is largely dictated by customer flow, McGhee said.
“My whole game is if the customers are here, we’ll stay open forever,” McGhee said. “If the customers are not coming, we’ll have to make adjustments.”
The Defense Commissary Agency will do a re-evaluation of the Leighton commissary’s inventory and hours early next year, said Kay Blakley, a DECA spokeswoman.
While Leighton Barracks itself was listed last summer by U.S. Army Europe as scheduled to be closed, no closure date has been announced.
Café Italiano, which operates inside the Book Mark, will move to the PX across the street.
Julie Fischer, who works at the café, said she thought it would be a lot busier.
Sitting on a couch near the magazine section on Thursday afternoon, retired Master Sgt. Patricia Davis said the Book Mark should be one of the last things to shut down at Leighton, but that she’s not surprised by the move.
“It’s a nice place, and I hate to see it go,” Davis said.
Navarro said the only way for her to browse for books would be to drive to Ramstein Air Base and its voluptuous retail offerings.
“I understand the bottom line is the dollar, but how much is the soldiers’ and families’ morale worth?” she said. “There’s still a lot of families with kids who come here, and the library doesn’t have the same atmosphere.”
New hours at Leighton
New operating hours at Leighton Barracks, Würzburg (in effect Sept. 2)
Post ExchangeMonday through Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Book Mark(until closure)Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Café ItalianoMonday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.Source: AAFES