Borders list of store closings ( .PDF )
Borders in Lawrence is closing, according to a Wednesday filing the company made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, N.Y.
The Lawrence store, 700 N.H., is one of 200 locations nationally that the troubled bookseller is closing as part of the bankruptcy filing. As of Jan. 29, Borders operated 642 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, with 6,100 full-time employees, 11,400 part-time employees and 600 contingent workers. The bankruptcy filings said the bookseller had about $1.3 billion in debt.
Mary Davis, public relations manager for Borders Group, said all stores on the closure list would be shut down by the end of April. Davis said employees were notified of the closure today and that sales to get rid of merchandise would likely start Saturday in time for Presidents Day weekend. Twenty-seven people work at the Lawrence store, and all will be losing their jobs.
According to bankruptcy documents, closure of an additional 75 stores might be necessary. Merchandise at the closing stores is not being replenished, but the Borders Rewards program is still operating. Gift cards can still be redeemed, but not bought, at closing stores.
The only other Kansas store that is closing, according to the list released by Borders, is in Wichita.
The Lawrence building is owned by Agree Realty Corp., a company based out of Farmington Hills, Mich. The company also owns the Wichita Borders store that is closing.
Agree Realty leases 14 properties to Borders, including its corporate headquarters. With the bankruptcy filing, it is losing five, amounting to about $2.6 million of the total $7.4 million Agree receives annually from Borders.
After the two stores close, three full Borders stores, two Waldenbooks and one Borders Express will remain in Kansas.
The Borders building, which is 20,000 square feet, was built specifically for the bookstore for $3.9 million.
It wasn’t without opposition.
Downtown business leaders could not reach a consensus about whether they supported the razing of the block for the store.
And a livery stable that would have to be torn down raised concerns with historical preservationists. The state’s historic preservation officer at the time, Ramon Powers, added his name to a list of 1,400 Lawrence residents who wanted the livery stable saved. Some residents and Lawrence’s Historic Resources Commission also worried that the new building would “encroach upon, damage or destroy” the surroundings and nature of nearby historic Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass.
Eventually, a deal was reached that Borders would keep two walls of the stable, which was built around 1900. The razing plan went to court because the Stumble Inn, a college bar that was at 704 N.H., for a time refused to leave. The bar shared a wall with the stable.
Construction of the store started in the summer of 1997, and it opened by December of that year.
Store to be missed
Since opening, Borders has become a gathering place for students and various craft and game groups. Knitters and artists can often be found at the long tables in the middle of the store and at the attached cafe.
Beau Bruns browsed the books at Borders on Wednesday morning and said he would miss the ability to come and peruse books before deciding what to buy. Bruns, a Johnson County Community College student who works at Best Buy, said he understood that people liked buying things online.
“People will come to the bookstore and browse, and then buy online,” he said.
Myka Small sat in the cafe at Borders Wednesday, studying for classes. Small, a nursing student at JCCC, said she regularly comes to the bookstore to do her work on the free wi-fi.
“I like it because it’s free,” she said. “I can’t think of anywhere else that provides that service.”
Competitors saw value
Heidi Raak, owner of the Raven Book Store, 6 E. Seventh St, said she was sad about Borders closing.
She said she didn’t want people to lose their jobs, and she also thought it was valuable for the book business that there were four bookstores close to each other downtown.
“It is good for everyone’s business that people can come downtown,” she said. “They’ll come in here and say, ‘Do you have a book?’ and we won’t have it, but they need it today, so I’ll call Borders.”
The Raven has been open for 23 years, but Raak has owned it for only three. When Borders opened in 1997, the then owners of the Raven thought the big chain store would damage the local store’s business, but Raak said that has not been the case.
“Borders hasn’t been exactly negative for this store,” she said.
Raak said Amazon.com had been more competition for her store, which sells many local and regional titles as well as popular national titles.
E-readers are also increasing competition in the book business.
Terry Pitzen, manager of Hastings Books Music & Video, 1900 W. 23rd St., said he was disappointed to see the store close, but he’d heard during the last six months rumors of Borders’ troubles.
“We hate to see competitors close because competition is good,” he said. “It’s crazy, because of the location as well. It’s a great spot for them.”