Going-out-of-business sales began Friday at Borders stores from coast to coast. In all, 399 stores are lighting the fuse on a fire sale expected to be as quick and painless as possible for the majestic old book retailer.
HIlco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners is in charge of the liquidation, and they expect to get more slash happy with the prices as the days drag on.
There may be some hope left for about three dozen existing Borders stores, as there are some discussions with Books-A-Million concerning select locations. Exactly which stores is unknown.
"I'm just like everybody else, I hate to see Borders go," Melvin Gordon, of the Gordon Brothers in Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, said. "I used to come in here, look around, and maybe get a cup of coffee every time my wife dragged me down to the local mall."
Borders executives say people like Gordon were the major flaw in their business model.
"We had been in business for about 10 or 15 years when we finally realized we hadn't been building America's best book retailer, we were just building the single-best waiting room/lounge for every mall from coast to coast," said an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Borders stores were always abuzz with people roaming the stacks for hours, with eyes glazed over and their jaws held agape. The source said, 90-percent of the stores' traffic was from spouses simply killing time- waiting.
"With government funding, we could have been the finest chain of libraries in the nation," he said. "Most of our stores were already located where the kids who need to use it are located."
The effort to get government funding fell flat, and left no other option but store closures.
"We figured if they gave the banks money to hold their pants up with, they would do the same for us, especially if it was with the intent of helping the kids," the source said. "Wrong again."
The hard-nosed battle over budget cuts is likely to blame for Borders' brick-and-mortar going belly up. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday, depending on whether any other special committees were having meetings that day, and what hours would be best for broadcast via C-Span and C-Span 2.
The White House Press Office is expected to respond to questions regarding the government's role in any discussions that may have taken place from today, late Monday morning when they are expected to announce the time of the announcement.
Extra security will be added as the going-out-of-business sale winds down.
"We just don't know what impact this is going to have," said Ray "Bluebird" Rutherford, an executive of the Southern Vista Mall near Spartanburg, S.C. "We know all too well that idle hands are the devil's workshop, and we're gonna be left with a lot of anxious, idle hands."
Rutherford said his plans to hire more security to manage the throngs of people who used to lounge in Borders reading magazines, comic books and graphic novels, while waiting for someone to finish shopping.
"The local manager here told me at least 85 percent of his mallside traffic was from male customers who more than likely hasn't even read a book unless it was for a grade," Rutherford said. "Those kind of people sound like trouble to me."