More store closings

So. Borders is expecting to close another another 28 stores.  The next closest to me, Fairfield, is one slated to close by May.  The Stamford store will also be closing.  This leaves Waldenbooks and 2 Borders-I forget where one is, and the Meriden store is close to Hartford, about an hour and a half away.

Borders seems to be doing the best it can to make sure I don’t want to shop there anymore.  Online, or in the store.  Every single email I’ve gotten in the past month has either been a notice about 165 closing sales, or it’s been telling me that it’s just “a quick drive” to the nearest store–Fairfield.  Not so much anymore.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of Barnes and Noble.  However, I’m also not a fan of internet shopping for books.  If I’m buying a physical copy of a book, I want it in my hands without a wait when possible.  I like being able to flip through books to get a feel of the writing.  And yes, I do tend to judge books by the covers.  I’ve bought several because I recognize the work of the cover artist, and every single one, so far, has been a series I continue to follow.

What this means is that I’m probably gonna have to suck it up and start going to Barnes and Noble.  I can only hope that the employees either become friendlier, or the store manager hires ex-Borders employees.  Unlikely to happen, but hey, I can dream.

And seriously, Borders?  Get your ass in gear and thank your employees already.  They shouldn’t be doing it for you.–The 165ers are calling the closing stores, those that haven’t closed yet, and thanking them for their service.

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Another one on Borders

I had a half day off today for a dentist appointment that ended up not happening.  So while I was in Fairfield, I stopped by the Borders there, since it’s just down the street from the dentist’s office.

My main interest in books tends to be sci-fi/fantasy.  That section in the store consists of two facing bookcases.  I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the section was somewhat larger in 165.  The new paperbacks weren’t quite as clearly marked, except for one stand.  The display with what I believe were new paperbacks was marked “Bestselling.”  This doesn’t help me find what I was looking for, even though I wasn’t expecting to find the paperbacks I wanted; I don’t think too many new books are being sent to Borders unless they’re expected to sell well.  I did stop at the cafe for a mocha, which by itself was okay.

The woman in line in front of me asked about what stores in CT were staying open, and which were closing.  She knew 165 was closing.  The cafe workers were pretty clueless about what was going on.  They only knew their store was staying open, and the Stamford store.  Didn’t seem to know that the Waldenbooks stores and 2 other Borders were staying open.


I tweeted the link to my previous post, including a mention for the Borders twitter.  They responded–

Borders @stellamortis Thank you for your post. I am always amazed by the energy & spirit of our store employees. Best of luck with Penny Press.


Okay, I don’t know where the best of luck bit came from-I thought I was clear enough that I didn’t think there would be too much impact on Penny.  As for the response about the employees–Really?  “Amazed by the energy and spirit”?  Did they read the post I wrote?  Yeah, I can kinda see how they’d get that, but nothing about thanking those employees?

If they won’t do it, I sure as hell will.

Thank you, booksellers at 165, and those at the other closing stores, because you are the people who made the stores worth visiting.

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Borders closing and store 165

Borders filed for Chapter 11.  The company isn’t going out of business; it’s reorganizing, similar to what K-Mart did.  If it can’t make a profit, then it likely will go out of business, like Circuit City.  Anymore than that–such as how this happened–is a simple Google search away.  Most everyone has given their interpretation  of events leading to this point, and most are similar.  With this filing, two hundred stores are closing.

Borders 165, my local store, is one of these.

It shouldn’t be.  The store is profitable, an anchor store in a busy Westfield mall.  They’re a casualty of their own good fortune.

A stipulation of the loan from GE is that leaseholders all have to renegotiate to keep the stores open.  High rents were one of the biggest problems Borders had.  Borders 165, though, had little reason for Westfield to want to renegotiate.  If the numbers I heard mentioned were correct, 165 had a rent of about $1 per square foot.  Why would they renegotiate that?

Professionally, will this affect me?  I’m uncertain.  It will be 200 stores fewer for Penny Press to sell magazines, but for puzzles, that might be a small number.  I won’t know until the company meeting sometime in March.  I’d be surprised if Borders gets no mention.  As for affecting me otherwise, I’m not yet anywhere near being published.  But I do keep an eye on how this is affecting the publishing industry.  Or, at least, I try to.

Personally, I’m heartsick.

Closing Borders 165 will leave me with three bookstores in the immediate area.  Penny’s Used Books, which is a nice enough store, but it’s a used store.  Most of the sci-fi/fantasy section I’ve either previously read, or I donated.  Collected Stories, an independent bookstore that has new, used, and collectible books.  The store is closed by the time I get out of the house to go anywhere.  The last store in the area is Barnes and Noble.

I’m not a fan of Barnes and Noble.  If I’m looking for anything outside of SF/F, it’s lumped together in Fiction.  Except Romance, Children/YA, and reference/nonfiction.  I go to B&N only when I want a book right away, and Borders doesn’t have it in stock.  I’m not impressed with the cafe, either.  The seating area is tiny and cramped.  The food is often stale, and the drinks barely adequate.  The cafe workers tend to be college/high school age, from what I can tell, that are more interested in gossiping with themselves.  The B&N booksellers come across as snooty and elitist.  Maybe they’re not, but they aren’t very personable and welcoming.  About the only way I’m likely to go to B&N instead of ordering from is if they hire any of the 165 staff.

The loss of the staff is what makes me and Rob the most heartsick.  Yes, we like Borders, but we go to the store because the staff have become friends.  In the five years since 165 opened, I’ve come to know most of the staff by name, and recognize the rest.  They all know me to be a regular customer as well.  Rob and I will stop by the store every Friday and Saturday nights, and we will spend several hours there talking with the staff.  We enjoy their company.

Because we spend so long talking with the staff, we usually buy more.  I’ll start out with the intention of buying a mocha, or other coffee drink, but before we’ve left the store, I’ve often bought a book or magazine that I’d originally forgotten about, or decided against, then changed my mind.

Since the store’s gone into closing mode, yes, I have taken advantage of the sale.  I’ve bought many books, several that I’d intended to buy but hadn’t because my to read pile takes up most of a bookcase.  now I have enough to fill a second bookcase.  I bought somewhere around $500 worth of books and notebooks.

Would I have done this without the sale?  Eventually.  I wish I could have.  The 165 staff doesn’t begrudge people coming to spend money on books.  It’s that so many came only for the sale, and not before when Borders could have used the help.  To add insult to injury, many people are asking when the discount will go higher than 20-40%, and when the store will close–probably to try to figure out the best time to get the greatest discount.

These people are being unapologetically mercenary.  A common comparison is that of vultures, come to feed on the carcass.  To make matters worse, they’re trashing the store.  At the end of the first sale day, the closing announcement said, “If you’re not interested in the book you’re holding, find a clean spot on the floor and throw it there.”

Normally, the announcement is to bring books to the Information desk to be reshelved.

Rob and I went to the store around 2:00 on Saturday.  We’d intended to go in, buy some books, and come home for the rest of the day.  We saw the staff and the mess, and the vultures, and we ended up staying until minutes before close.  We wanted to support our 165 staff.

We’ll likely do the same Friday.

We’ve been loyal customers to Borders 165 since it opened about five years ago.  We will be loyal customers until the doors close for the final time.  After that, our trips to Borders will be fewer because we won’t be able to drive the 15-30 miles to the next closest store.  Not as often as we do going the five miles to 165.

Borders has been criticized for not telling the staff of the closing stores.  Many found out online, some through Facebook.  Some found out when the liquidators showed up at the store.  I’ve seen posts online that the company legally could not inform staff of the closings.  I’m uncertain of the validity of this claim.  True or not, I don’t think it’s the worse Borders did.  That was the email sent thanking their loyal customers.

I’m a loyal customer.  Don’t thank me.  Thank the Borders employees.  They made me a loyal customer.

Annie, Sarah, Emily, Marci, Donna, Kathy, Andrea, Dennis, Matt, Christine, Brendan, Susan, Carol, Gina, Jamie, and all the rest–We’re going to miss you.


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Christmas and cleaning

I’ve been caught up with Christmas and all the holiday stuff lately.  It ends up taking up a lot of time for me since I live in CT, and my family lives in TX and AK.  So I have to start my shopping early on to get everything wrapped and packaged to get it shipped to arrive before Christmas.

This year, I lost track of time.  I had most everything bought and realized I had two weeks to get it all together.  Spent all of Saturday wrapping and packing stuff and got it to the UPS store to ship.  I need to not do that next year.

So, because of this, I got completely sidetracked from revisions.  And let myself get sidetracked, too.  Exercise got left behind as well.  But I have next week off.  New/fresh start on Monday.  I’ve begun cleaning my writing room in anticipation of the excuses I might come up with to procrastinate.  If I can get a big part of the room clean before Monday, I should be good there.

Other excuses, maybe not so much.  Still have the airline to call about the wedding fare discount thingie, stuff to put on the amazon registry, and we haven’t seen any movies yet–that list keeps getting longer.  Will have to wait and see.

And I won’t even get a break from everything until almost the end of January.  For New Year’s, we’re going to Pennsylvania.  Weekend after is a trip into NYC to meet up with friends and have mac and cheese.  The 14-16 of Jan is Marscon.  It exhausts me to just think about it all.

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Been trying to read through my rough draft. Going slow, mainly cause I don’t want to read through, I just want to get to the rewriting.  Gotta dive back into that now.

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