CLAYTON, Mo. – About 50 business were warned by St. Louis County they needed to shut down.
Barnes and Noble was reportedly on the list of defiant businesses, until Fox 2 found they shut down Thursday morning.
All four St. Louis County locations are now closed, with signs on the door saying they’re following Health Department orders.
Customers were still showing up to locked doors.
“I’m very surprised,” said Michael Conroy, a regular customer. “That is the last thing that I would expect – is to see a bookstore – Barnes and Noble. There’s only a few in St. Louis.”
Conroy said the store had already made changes.
“There were no tables, chairs. They were removed. You couldn’t come in sit down and read,” he said. “You couldn’t…other than getting something to go, or stand, period.”
St. Louis County Counselor Beth Orwick sent out about 50 warning letters on Thursday.
“The letter tells the difference between an essential business and a non-essential business and in the letter, we say why we believe they’re a non-essential business and they need to shut operations,” she said.
Those that don’t shut down, Orwick says the county will take to court.
“However, we also give an opportunity for a business to explain why they believe they are essential and to contact a member of the county counselor’s office so we have a better understanding,” said Orwick, a former federal prosecutor. “(The stores) range in types, you know, nail salons, restaurants, beauty supply stores.”
Though Conroy said he was surprised when he visited Barnes and Noble today, he says he doesn’t disagree with it shutting down.
“I could understand that because it’s not considered an essential business, a retail store that has to stay open for the good of the public,” he said.
All four St. Louis stores, though closed, have lights on inside, employees coming and going, and people picking up orders processed online.
The St. Peters store remains open according to an employee who answered the phone Thursday. The employee said they will remain open unless St. Charles County issues a stay-at-home order.
Barnes and Noble did not respond to a phone call to its corporate office, nor an email to its press office.