Late last week I heard the news that the Borders that I walk by every day – and make frequent stops at – will be closing in the next couple of months.
Watching most any store or restaurant go out of business is a pretty depressing process. If it’s a chain store like Borders, especially if it’s one you patronize, there’s the loss of the convenience factor, and the loss of jobs for those who worked there. If it’s a small, local store, it’s not just the convenience and jobs that are lost, there’s probably someone’s dream flying out the window. “My” card store, Copley Flair, a small (3 location) local chain closed this past year. I send a lot of greeting cards, so I was particularly bummed when it went out of business. Where was I going to buy my Christmas cards which, for the last few decades, I’d gotten half-price, the day after Christmas at Copley Flair? Fortunately, I already have my 2011 cards, but what am I supposed to do for 2012 exactly?
“My” Copley Flair was just across the street from “my” Borders, so it was a place I walked by every day, too. They had a great card selection, reasonable prices, and a frequent buyer program. I loved getting my tenth punch on my yellow and black polka-dot customer card, which meant a free card. Yea!
Now the only convenient card store is Papyrus.. Very nice cards, but pretty darned pricey – even with the buy three, get the fourth free deal-io they have going. Whenever I pick up a card and see $6.95 on the back, I have heart palpitations and a flash-back to the time when 25 cents was a lot to pay for a greeting card. Papyrus cards are also over-packaged: most come sealed for freshness in a clear plastic envelope. I suppose that this prevents them from becoming shopworn, yet it seems like complete overkill to me. Maybe they should just issue patrons surgical gloves to wear when handling the cards, in much the same way that shoe stores give out nylon peds.
Anyway, when Copley Flair closed I was very sorry to see them go.
But not half as sorry as I will be to see the downtown Borders shutter its operation.
When I saw the news the other day, I immediately dropped in and spent nearly a hundred bucks on books, boo-hooing all the way.
Having watched the Borders in Back Bay drop out of existence, I know what to expect from the liquidation sale, and it won’t be pretty.
I know we’re supposed to look down our noses at chains of any sort, and mostly I do. But Borders was pretty good
I don’t just buy a lot of greeting cards, I buy a lot of books, and I’d say that, at least once a month, I’d stop in at Borders and pick up at least a couple of them.
I might have just finished up what I had been reading, and not want to sort through my reserve supply of a hundred or so books. Or I might have just felt like taking a break from whatever it was that was sitting on the floor next to the bed. Maybe I was buying a few books to take on a trip – which was the case on my previous Borders visit, when I picked up a couple of novels and a history book to take to Ireland. Maybe it was to buy a gift. Books are my default baby present, not to mention what I pretty much always give my brother Rick for his birthday, and my cousin-in-law Dick for Christmas.
Borders had a pretty good selection, and the folks who worked there were incredibly nice and helpful.
Amazingly, with the demise of Borders, there will be no place in downtown Boston where you can buy a new book. (A couple of used bookshops remain open.)
So there will be no more casual, drop in, browse-and-buy book-buying trips for me.
Going to the Back Bay Barnes and Noble – which I don’t like anywhere near as much as a I like Borders – is a bit out of the way. If I’m going to go there, I might as well go to the Boston Public Library, which is on the way. Which is not a bad idea. I have been telling myself that I really should frequent the library rather than keep on buying books, which do tend to accumulate, even though my sisters and I are pretty good about keeping them in circulation.
The Borders in Cambridge is supposedly staying open, but if I’m going to schlepp to the Cambridgeside Galleria, I might as well go to Harvard Square, where the excellent indie bookseller, the Harvard Bookstore, is located. (I have always loved the Harvard Bookstore, but the bookstore in the square that I really miss is Wordsworth, which went out a couple of years back. In fact, when I read about the Borders’ closing, I had just begun to absorb the news that Wordsworth’s (little) sister store, Curious George, which sold children’s books and toys, is also closing. Maybe there’ll be something interesting going in in its place, although the recent retail history of Harvard Square suggests something wretchedly uninteresting and every-mall-in-America like.)
Rather than stop in The Square, I could always stay on the subway for another stop, and patronize Porter Square Books, another indie. Or head in the opposite direction – Go West, late-middle-aged woman! – and shop at the very fine Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner.
So I do have book-buying options open to me, at least temporarily. I.e., until the only way to buy books will be from Amazon, and/or the printed word is completely subsumed by the digital.
But it’s not the same as having a bookstore that I pass every day and can stop into for an impulse buy.
Why my Borders?