The Borders in my neighborhood is closing. It's in a large mall and according to one of the clerks I spoke to, their rent is high and they are not making enough money. I was over there last night - my second evening foray since I discovered their January 19 closing date. Many signs everywhere saying "25% off", "last chance" "75% off". Many empty shelves. I felt somewhat like a looter, slightly evil for walking the aisles, using their misfortune to grab a bargain for myself. I feel bad for Borders. Clearly I think of the store as more friend than a place to shop.
There are several reasons for this:
1) I am a bookaholic and no thank you I don't need a 12 step program or to recover. I love books. I am very very happy to wander in a bookstore for hours. It's rich. It takes me to different worlds in a manner of moments as I flip pages. I have always loved to 'retreat' by reading books.
2) I used to work at a Borders. I'm not talking 'put myself through college' employment, I'm talking recently. When I came to the point in my life when I recognized something needed to change in my career, I started exploring what made me happy. I had always harbored a secret fantasy of owning a bookstore. I ordered a book on owning your own bookstore and explored that option. One day online I randomly applied for a job at the Borders in my town. They called me and hired me!! This was when I was also working full time as a paralegal in a lawfirm that was constantly in trial. I worked my 'day job' at the lawfirm then scooted down to Borders to work the evening shift and close the store. I feel crazily proud of this dot on my resume. I was working with kids the same age of my kids and they really liked me. I walked the store with my Borders badge saying to myself (giddily I might add) I can't believe I work here!! I had so much joy helping customers find books. Since I have bought and read so many myself I did know where they were and could tell them - "yes, that is a great book, and you should also read this one".
3) It hurts my sense of community that a store like Borders cannot survive. I don't know what to attribute it to but I'm guessing Barnes & Noble being across the street - and mind you I play no favorites - I love all book stores - could be a factor. The accessibililty and affordability of Amazon and the internet could be another. Hey, I am probably one of Amazon books' best customers. What is not to love? I buy them used, they bring them to my house for a fraction of the cost of going out to the store to buy them. So while I am contributing to it, I feel a little sad that real bookstores, where people go out and walk amongst books, sometimes running into a friend there, having coffee, talking with the clerks about books, could be becoming a thing of the past. Is the internet creating less community on a physical level? Don't need to get too deep, I'm just noticing my feelings.
I'm going back there today. There's a couple CDs I'd like so I'll see if they are there and marked down. Again, the feeling of profiting from someone's loss. All the employees are out jobs. One told me how sad it felt to him as he really likes working there and the people he works with. Again, this is part of the cycle of life, the inevitability of change. And, change isn't usually comfy cozy.