RIP Borders

Unless a white knight appears at the last minute, Borders Books will announce its liquidation on Monday.  I for one will miss Borders.  The Borders of old that is.  Not what Borders has been the last several years.

One of the first stores I discovered as a freshman in September 1980 at the University of Michigan, on State Street just off of campus, was Borders.  This was a bookstore unlike any other I had ever seen.  I'd shopped at B. Dalton's at the local mall, which was rather small and uninteresting.  I remember a Little Professor now far from my home but it was crowded and hard to find anything in it. 

Borders was a completely different experience.  They had marked down books outside of the store for you to look at.  The store itself was two floors - unheard of - and was just a wonderful experience.  Then when you made a purchase, the cashier would flip through the book and pull out what looked like a miniature IBM punch card.  You knew that they had some sophisticated systems.

Imagine my excitement when Borders opened their second store around 1985 in Southfield, MI about 4 miles from my apartment.  Store #3 opened in Novi, MI, also not far away, maybe a year later.  The stores weren't quite as big as the Ann Arbor store but were still wonderful to visit and great places to find new books to read.

Then K Mart bought Borders.  To me, that was the start of its downfall.  Borders never had the same feel after that.  I was still excited when they opened a store in Farmington Hills, MI very close to where I live in West Bloomfield.

But then a Barnes & Noble opened up a mile up Orchard Lake from the Farmington Hills store (in an old bowling alley).  I felt guilty shopping at Barnes & Noble but it was just a nicer store.  As time went on, the Borders store kept cutting down on inventory and by last fall had blocked off about half of the store.  

Why?  Easy to blame it on K Mart's ownership.  I think management just never thought as far ahead as Barnes & Noble.  They certainly didn't see Amazon as a threat.  My wife has a Nook from Barnes & Noble, and I have an Amazon Kindle.  Who needs the book store anymore?  And they aren't that wonderful to hang out because there just isn't that much to look at.

I'm going to miss the Borders I remember from my college days.  And I'm going to continue reading books on my Kindle. 

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Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies. Joel writes observations on different matters and especially on working with and using LinkedIn. He thinks he has a sense of humor.

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