City Desk

Borders Should Just Die Already

Last week, Housing Complex decided that it's OK not to mourn Borders' money problems. The book chain is ugly and located on busy streets (downtown, Friendship Heights) or tucked into mega-complexes (Pentagon City, White Flint Mall). Yes. It is ugly and located in non-neighborhoody spots.

And it's so much more. It has the same selection as an airport kiosk but at twice the size. It seems to think everyone needs to be greeted with towering displays Palin and/or Beck and/or that No Spin guy. It is expensive. Why would anyone go there when D.C. has really strong independent stores?

Probably the worst thing about Borders is the long slog of stories about Borders' financial woes. WaPo's piece yesterday is just the latest. Can it just die already?

Full Disclosure: I used to work there in 1996. So here's my insider reasons why Borders may be closing:

  1. At least in my store, the metal detectors didn't really work.
  2. The store had an incredibly lame music staff. I once got berated for playing Patti Smith instead of the Rent soundtrack.
  3. Management banned staff from reading on the job. Even when there were no customers in the store (say 10 p.m. on a Tuesday).
  4. At a certain point, I did a really shitty job shelving the knitting and tatting section.
  5. Customers only ever seemed interested in the Jesus books.

As you can see by my references, my reasons might be a wee bit dated. Sorry. In the mid '90s, there were no Kindles or iPads.

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  • IMGoph

    reasons for it to not die: michigan does not need to lose yet another business, and all those jobs.

  • quitwhining

    You apparently do a bad job at writing articles as well. Reading on the job? Yes it is a book store but clean up. You don't get paid to read. That is what a break is for. You get paid to work. As far as the music you go to work to work not for a dance party. Seriously. People will lose their jobs. There is enough of that going on. The main problem is that Borders made poor business decisions. They focused on the wrong things. Through all of this they lost sight of the customer and the people that work for them. Borders needs help at all levels. They need to rebuild their customer base and get out of those lousy lease agreements at some of their stores. If you heard the money spent on rent vs. other retailers of their size you would be shocked. They also need to mend the ties with their team members and build a better relationship with them. Some have such poor attitudes due the way they implemented change that they only stay because there is no where else to go. This can be seen in the poor customer service you now get there.

  • Yup

    Yup, this sounds like about 99% of the people I worked with when I was a Borders employee - people who hated (among other things, and in no particular order) the general idea of work; free markets and the basic concept of having to buy or sell anything; having to deal with other people (namely customers, but many coworkers too); specifically having to deal with anyone who couldn't immediately give a well-informed opinion on the unknown, unpublished authors they adored, or who couldn't play "Name That Tune" with songs from some coked-up garage punk band in inner-city Portland; the fact that ideas they don't agree with are made available or thought about in any way, shape or form; God and religion, and their being allowed to be thought, written or spoken about except in critical, dismissive terms; people who wore clothes or drove cars that they (said booksellers) could not afford; having to sell, work with or direct customers to books on topics that were, in the minds of Borderites, beneath contempt and/or not worthy of consideration (say, knitting); and on and on and on. These were painfully unhappy people (yet absolutely hilarious to observe) and I assure you they will not have any concept of or concern for the ripple effect Borders' "death" would have on employees and a whole host of other people (they will have a keen understanding of the unfairness of the whole situation for themselves personally, though, I can assure you of that).

  • BSI

    No, seriously. It needs to die.
    Borders is no longer a BOOK STORE. It's some kind of weird gift-shop for cards and calendars and whatever teenage bullshit that's being mass-marketed these days (zombie vampire werewolf dolls with flashlight keychain nipples & vaguely connected with some teevee show which is vaguely connected with some paperback series, big clusterfuk of cross-marketed hoochycoochie)...

    Supposedly there's no such thing as a viable "book store" business model these days, so now that the indie shops are all but deceased, this worthless lumbering square-footage-whore needs to go down coughing up blood, offering its shattered bones to bleach in the sun while we all pray for the return of proper BOOK STORES. Say amen, somebody!

  • G.

    I also worked for Borders in 1997. your top 5 reasons ring so true. only I worked in the music dept, and we all played great rock music, which we had to turn down since we were stuck right next to the children's dept. store was very badly managed