Bookworms in Redmond and the greater Eastside will soon have one less option to fuel their reading habits.
After filing for bankruptcy in February and failing to secure a buyer to keep the company going, Borders Group, Inc. announced early last week that it will liquidate and close all of its stores — which includes the Borders located at 7525 166th Ave. N.E. in Redmond Town Center.
“Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development,” said Borders President Mike Edwards in a press release issued by the company. “We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now.”
According to the company’s press release, Borders currently has 399 stores. When the company first filed for Chapter 11 about five months ago, 200 stores closed, including two in Washington — one in Lynnwood and one in Gig Harbor. There are 14 stores remaining in the state including the Redmond location.
Redmond resident and Borders regular Jon Brown said all these factors — the rise of eReaders and fall of the economy — seemed to have happened at the same time and it is disappointing to see Borders go. He added that he hates to see bookstores close because there aren’t enough around and e-books are not the same.
“There’s still a place in your heart for books,” he said.
Brown’s daughter Sarah Brown agrees.
“I’d rather read out of a concrete book than a Kindle,” she said.
Sarah and her father are not the only ones sad to see Borders go.
Customers have been filing into the Redmond store since last Friday to take advantage of the going-out-of-business sales and while they’re grateful for the discounted prices, many are down about the store’s closure.
Redmond resident Gloria Berner used to visit Borders for coffee at the cafe, which has already closed. The 28-year-old doesn’t buy many books for herself but said she would often buy gifts for others from Borders — and not just books.
“I’ll miss having a place with cool journals and cards and things like that,” said Berner, who visited the store Tuesday afternoon.
FILLING THE VOID
With roughly 25,535 square feet of retail space on two floors, Borders takes up a significant amount of space and is the only bookstore in the town center.
Berner said each mall needs a big bookstore adding that it will be strange if another one does not open in Borders’ place. Like the Browns, who also visited Borders on Tuesday, Berner said people still need bookstores despite the rise of e-books.
“I think actual books are still important to people,” she said.
In an e-mail, Steven Chaffee, senior property manager for Redmond Town Center, said they are already exploring other uses for the Borders location, but could not comment on possible retailers.
“Retail is all about what’s new and fresh and we look forward to the opportunity to bring a compelling new retail concept to Redmond Town Center,” he stated. “When we have the opportunity to re-lease well-positioned spaces in our shopping center we view it as a chance to bring new energy to the merchandise mix. This is our strategic focus for this particular space.”
Chaffee said Borders opened in November 1997 when the town center was born and has been the only retailer to occupy its current space.
While Redmond has a few small, local bookstores, Borders is the only store that offers a wide variety of new books. Shops such as McDonald’s Book Exchange at 16415 NE 83rd St. and Half Price Books at 7805 Leary Way mostly carry used books.
These stores may benefit a little bit from less competition, but Jon said it will be more difficult for people looking for newer books.
“You come (to Borders), you know you’re going to get the new releases,” he said.
Jon said with the closure, other large booksellers such as Barnes and Noble, Third Place Books and University Book Store will probably benefit from former Borders customers seeking new releases.
“It’s a terrible loss,” said McDonald’s owner Anne St. Germain. “I’m really, really sorry to see (Borders) go.”
St. Germain isn’t sure yet how the closure will affect her but she knows it will.
Holly Doyel, manager of the Redmond Half Price Books, agrees. She said even though her store specializes in used books, they do carry recently released books as people sell them after reading them. She said now that Borders is closing, her store may not get the more recent books as quickly because people will have to go somewhere less convenient to buy them.
“I think (Borders closing) will limit some of our recently released books,” she said.
While this may be the case, Doyel said she hopes people will take advantage of the variety used bookstores offer, which include out-of-print books, collectibles, first editions and other one-of-a-kind books. She added that maybe Borders’ closing will open people’s eyes beyond new releases and bestsellers.
Doyel also said Half Price Books will honor Borders’ kids summer reading program. Borders participants can bring their paperwork into Doyel’s store to receive a coupon reward.