Thursday, March 17, 2011

In which I conduct a reconnaissance mission

Undercover at Borders' going out of business sale

There's a Borders store closing right in my neighborhood. I went there on a sad mission -- to survey the scene and look for some books at a discount.  Hand-lettered signs greet me at the door, "Everything must go." Everything meaning not only stock -- but furniture and fixtures too.

More than half the shelves are already stripped. On others, an assortment of books leans at haphazard angles. In what's left of the children's section, there are still some 2011 Caldecott and Newbery winners scattered on a table.

The mood is grim, a ghost town in the making. Music plays in the background, but it's fuzzy, as if not tuned directly on the radio station call numbers. A crew of knowledgeable, caring, soon-to-be-unemployed booksellers attempts to be helpful, but they can't search for titles now. The database isn't available. Customers have to sort through a miscellany of books in a mash-up of genres.

I select my purchases -- a classic and contemporary mix -- and carry them to the cashier.  The Quiet Book, a recent picture book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska, Cornelia and the Audacious Excapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, E.B. White's  Stuart Little, and a notebook  -- all 30 percent off. There's also a grown-up novel in the group -- Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay.

The sweet young cashier doesn't know how long this store will remain open, or where he's going next. "It's the end of the road for me," he said.
I wish him luck.

He scans my books. "Just letting you know, there are no returns."

"I understand," I said, feeling like a scavenger. Even so, I'll be back for more before it's too late.

Thoughts, complaints, commiserations? Please share. Irresistible urge to follow this blog? Why not?

The blog tour for Quacky Baseball is coming up soon. Really. The starting pitch -- a wonderful interview with Kristin Daly Rens, Senior Editor, Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins). Do check back.


The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

It's the end of the world.
Chicken Little

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Dear Mr. Little

The sky is falling, but on the upside -- at least for now -- it's raining discount books.

Laurie Young said...

After witnessing the Westwood Borders sad demise, I vowed not to go into another closing store. But yesterday I was in Century City and I could not resist. This store still has some selection, but the 30% off was not enough to entice me to buy much. I got an email that the discount has been raised again today, but I am not going back. It is very sad to see, and even though the employees were very professional, all of them looked shell-shocked and unhappy. It's kind of like watching a friend move away, but you won't ever talk to them or see them again.

75 more closings were announced and I can't see how this chain will continue much longer. It just makes me sad.

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks for commenting, Laurie. How well you put it -- It is like watching a friend moving away. It makes me sad too.