As Jackie Keltz walked into Riverhead’s new Barnes and Noble store Wednesday morning, she was surprised to see how many people were outside waiting in line.
“I was not expecting to see a line around the door when I walked in this morning,” the store’s lead bookseller said.
Eager customers wrapped around the store at the Riverhead Shopping Center on Route 58. Hundreds of customers and community members gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony as Barnes and Noble opened its first Long Island store in 14 years.
Alexandra Garcia came from Ronkonkoma to check out the new store.
“I’ll be going to school out in the Suffolk campus come January,” she said. “This is my favorite store so it’s nice that there’s one close by now so between classes, I can come here.”
When the doors opened at 10 a.m., customers flooded the store. As they walked in customers were greeted by a display of books, magazines and more titled “Best of the East End.”
The store also offered everything customers have come to expect from Barnes and Noble, including sections on Manga comics, business and much more.
New York Times best-selling author and Long Island resident Nelson DeMille helped cut the ribbon and said a few words to the audience.
“This is a great addition to the community,” he said. “There’s really been a lack of bookstores out here. I know the community will support this place, it’s a really beautiful store.”
Mr. DeMille signed copies of his latest book, “The Maze.” The store sold out copies within the first 30 minutes of opening.
Employees were giving out number tickets so everyone waiting in line was guaranteed a copy of the book; they even ran out of the numbered tickets. Ms. Keltz said another store would be providing them copies of both the book and numbered tickets later on Wednesday.
Marilyn Banks-Winter of Riverhead, co-chair and founder of African American Educational Cultural Festival, also was present at the ceremony and explained what the opening of this store means to her and the organization.
“This means a lot to me because of the fact that we want to bring in local authors, mainly African American and Afro indigenous,” She said. “We kicked off a campaign last year and we want to continue in partnership with Barnes and Noble.”
Store manager Sarah deQuillfeldt said there are exciting things coming for the store.
“We are so excited to have all of our local authors here throughout the month with us,” Ms. deQuillfeldt said. ”We are very excited to get to know the community and really make this a place that feels like home.”
The last large chain retail book store in Riverhead town was Borders, which closed in 2011.
Upcoming events with local authors include a book signing with Erika Swyler Thursday at 5 p.m. At 3 p.m. Friday, the store will host a young adult author panel and signing with Lygia Day Peñaflor, Kara Thomas and Amy Giles and more are already scheduled through Nov. 17.
The store will be open from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. on Sundays.