Over the last four decades, Powell’s Books has swelled into the largest bookstore in North America ”” a capacious monument to reading that occupies a full square block of this often-drizzly city. But this year, growth has given way to anxiety.
Michael Powell, the store’s owner, recently dropped plans for a $5 million expansion. An architect had already prepared the drawings. His bankers had signaled that financing was available. But the project no longer looked prudent, Mr. Powell concluded ”” not with sales down nearly 5 percent, stock markets extinguishing savings, home prices plunging and jobs disappearing.
“It’s going to take a period of time to recover,” Mr. Powell said. “Whether it’s 2 years or 10 years I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to be quick. People are nervous.”