Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders Bankruptcy

Borders filed for bankruptcy, and I had to check if the store on Waukeegan Road in Deerfield, Illinois is closing. Yup, it's on the list. In 1996 I came back from college with my English degree, and went through a training program at Borders. At that point, Borders was about two years away from it's stock peak (about $38 - it's currently trading at $0.22). There were brash young regional managers and whatnot who were clearly into the next big thing - except that the next big thing was the internet and Borders didn't care about the internet (yes, they practically gave away their online business to Amazon). My friends Brian and Matt had worked there, and it was a good stop on the way to other places.

The thing that disturbed me about Borders was the piles and piles of books in the back - there were just these great towers of books everywhere. No one seemed to have a handle on the inventory. Employees were taking bunches of books home, and no one seemed to care. It seemed like too much waste, especially of books, which I hold as practically sacred. I didn't think it would last, but got my timing wrong by about fifteen years.

I had barely finished the training program and I was off to other things - grad school in Alaska. I felt bad because the woman who led the training program took it quite seriously - she saw herself as more of a librarian than in retail.

A week ago, we realized Catherine had a gift certificate to Borders and we rushed over there to use it before they closed all the Colorado stores - which they're largely doing. The place was hardly staffed. It seemed like they were getting ready to turn off the lights. And now they are.

No comments: