The news that it was going into administration wasn’t a huge surprise. The signs had been there for a while, but that makes it no less depressing. We stuck to our original plans, but all three of us left the shop wishing we hadn’t gone. There is nothing edifying about a building full of people fighting over the scraps of a business whilst staff watch everything they’ve worked so hard on get torn apart. I’ve been in a similar position and still find the memory depressing; I sincerely hope the staff come out with decent payoffs because heaven knows they will deserve it by the time the doors finally close, and whatever situation Borders has got itself into, it’s in no way the fault of their generally excellent floor staff.
From the shop floor point of view it’s a frustrating irony that when a business goes down customers flock in, despite the fact that initial discounts are small – the 20% off most books at the weekend should still leave a profit margin – where were the customers when you needed them and running similarly generous discounts?
When it comes down to it Borders felt like it lost its way some time ago, and with it lost the interest of customers like me. There have been plenty of times I wanted to spend money, had money to spend, and couldn’t find anything to buy. I wish they had managed to get it right because although I think Waterstone’s is the better retailer I don’t like the fact that they have now become the only real player on the field/high street. It’s not healthy for anyone and neither is an over reliance on internet sources. Amazing as places like amazon are they can never replace the local Borders I remember in it’s hay day when it was defiantly a family destination; somewhere children where encouraged to engage with books and their own imaginations and somewhere that people like me could find both what I wanted, and things I never knew I wanted.
But the thing image that will now really stick with me is a line of half a dozen booksellers stuck at the tills working flat out and every one of them on the verge of tears as they deal with a public happy to get a bargain out of someone else’s personal disaster. A depressing way for anything to come to an end.