Pittsburgh bookstore says Terminal developers “trying to crush the little guy” after leasing issues

PITTSBURGH — The owners of White Whale Books in Bloomfield say they were completely taken aback after it was announced a national chain bookstore was moving into the new Terminal project in the Strip District.

In an Instagram post, the owners of White Whale Books wrote they “got taken advantage of” and that they had “a cautionary tale.” The owners said they were approached last summer by the real estate company behind the Terminal project about having a second location in the Strip. The owners laughed it off at the time as they were merely trying to survive the pandemic.

The real estate company pushed harder in the fall and the owners said they were more willing at that time to entertain the idea. “It felt like true possibility in an insanely stressful year,” the post said.

The owners said they moved quickly to secure their spot, settling on lease terms and “explicitly confirming that they were not negotiating with another bookstore.” After that, they said there was “radio silence.”

The bookstore followed up and nearly two months later they were told “there was no space for White Whale.” The owners said the leasing manager told them “the other had had a draft of a lease at The Terminal all along.”

>>>RELATED: Posman Books latest tenant to move into The Terminal in the Strip District

The social media post thanked shoppers for helping the owners make it through the last year and slammed the project’s developers.

“They courted a small mom-and-pop shop, asked us to scramble during a pandemic year in which we’d already pivoted over and over, and instead put a national indie chain just down the hill from us,” the owners wrote. “This is Big Business doing what it always does: trying to crush the little guy.”

According to our partners at the Pittsburgh Business Times, Posman Books was the tenant that was instead invited to move into the development. The store is a New York-based independent bookseller.

The Terminal project involves redeveloping the old produce terminal in the Strip District.