Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which filed for bankruptcy last year after struggling through five years of declining sales, is now under new ownership after a bankruptcy auction held in April.
In a surprising turn of events, the winning bid of $3.9 million went to Booksellers Enterprises LLC, a company affiliated with Langley Properties Co. and The Mall at Lexington Green in Lexington, where Joseph-Beth is the primary tenant. The mall management company had originally supported Joseph-Beth founder Neil Van Uum in his bid to regain control of the company but several days prior to the auction announced that it would be bidding against Van Uum.
With its bid, Booksellers Enterprises now owns the Joseph-Beth locations in Lexington, Cincinnati and Cleveland and the company’s corporate headquarters in Cincinnati. With the exception of Van Uum, the management team that previously led Joseph-Beth will remain in place. Mark Wilson, previously chief operating officer, is now serving as president and CEO.
Gordon Brothers, a retail liquidation company, purchased Joseph-Beth’s Fredericksburg, Va., store and the company’s Davis-Kidd Booksellers location in Memphis, Tenn. Van Uum has since negotiated a deal to continue operating the Memphis store.
Van Uum and his former wife founded Joseph-Beth in Lexington in 1986 and eventually expanded the company to include nine Joseph-Beth and Davis-Kidd stores.