I haven’t been very public about my thoughts on the end of Borders. I think most of that stems from the inability to accept that the Borders I know and love will cease to exist by the end of the year. In the back of my head, I feel like if I ignore it, things will be just fine. Well, as someone who works at the home office for the next two weeks (4 weeks more than most of my department), it’s hard to ignore it any longer. The halls are empty; the cubes and furniture have (over)price tags on them, and I’ve moved to the third floor to finish up my time as a Borders employee. The joy and energy that once filled the halls of the big white building are nothing more than memories. I worked at Borders for seven years, so the folks I worked with became a second family. It’s a bit harder than I expected to say goodbye.
One of the things I promised myself was that I wasn’t going to go into one of the stores now that the liquidation is going on. I just didn’t want to see the store I know and love defamed like that. I was downtown Ann Arbor today interviewing for another job and it just so happens the place I was interviewing at is close to Store 01. There was a book I’ve been wanting that I knew was in stock (and I refused to buy it from Amazon), so I went back on what I decided once Borders filed for Chapter 7. I walked into Store 01, ignored every single liquidation sign (which wasn’t an easy feat), and said goodbye to an old friend. Luckily, the book I wanted was tucked in the horror section on the first floor, so I didn’t need to go upstairs and see the cafe roped off or to see what was left of a once great music and video selection that was decimated by years and years of inventory reduction initiatives. I don’t think I could have gone upstairs anyway. I had to draw the line somewhere. It was weird enough walking into the store I love after a job interview. Here I was dressed from head to toe in black for the interview (which was fitting since walking into Store 01 today was almost like a memorial service or a viewing. Thoughts of how packed the store was when Dog the Bounty Hunter or Billy Corgan or Bruce Campbell visited went through my head. Thoughts of John Hodgman’s book signings (which were way more than half full – my guess is he was going for comedic effect….) and the awkward cocktails beforehand went through my head. All the authors I’ve had the pleasure to meet these past seven years who may now never have a reason to come to Ann Arbor ever again….it’s just tragic.
Borders was my first….bookstore. It almost felt like I was cheating on her by walking into the store in my interview attire. But, upon further thought, I think Borders would want me to move on with my life. Regardless, it felt almost wrong walking in there today. But, Borders did today what it always did for me – offered me a great book. The book I bought today was from a small press that wouldn’t probably get placement in a B&N or an indie bookstore, so another thing I worry about as I move on to a life without Borders is how will I find these diamonds in the rough? I’ll find a way because Borders would want me to. So, I’m going to put my big boy pants on and prepare myself to move on. I have a week and a half left as a Borders employee and I’m going to make the most of it, even if I spend my last days cleaning up and prepping the building for winding down operations. I’m going to be strong because Borders would want it that way.
I had a lot more I wanted to say for this blog post, but when writing it, I had trouble composing my thoughts into a cohesive narrative. I may write more about Borders, I may not. I think you kind of get the jist of what I wanted to say, right? Just know that I will find a new bookstore to shop at because I refuse to buy books from Amazon. I may not like it, but I will find a new bookstore to try to fill the Borders-sized hole in my heart.