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Utica, GP Borders among those to close nationwide

Customers surprised doors will close

By: K. Michelle Moran, Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published February 23, 2011

 The Borders store in The Village in Grosse Pointe City is among many nationwide slated to close in the coming weeks.

The Borders store in The Village in Grosse Pointe City is among many nationwide slated to close in the coming weeks.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

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UTICA/GROSSE POINTE CITY — With an announcement that it has filed for bankruptcy reorganization, Borders Group said that it would be closing two local stores in the next few weeks.

The Borders locations in Utica and Grosse Pointe are among the stores across the country slated to close in the next several weeks to help the book-selling company reposition itself as a competitor, company officials said in a news release Feb. 16.

“Borders Group does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor,” said Mike Edwards, Borders Group president, in a release. “To position Borders to remedy this condition, Borders Group, with the authorization of its board of directors, has filed a petition for reorganization relief under Chapter 11. … This decisive action will give Borders the opportunity to achieve a proper infusion of capital … to reposition itself to be a successful business for the long term.”

“I like Borders over Barnes & Noble any day,” said Patty Rea of Sterling Heights, arriving at Borders of Utica just hours after the announcement Feb. 16. “I think it’s fun for the kids. They like coming to the bookstore.

“Unfortunately, I think it kind of makes you have to go to Barnes & Noble, which I don’t think is what they want.”

Shoppers at the Grosse Pointe store on Feb. 17 were equally dismayed by the news. Because of its location in The Village, many customers walk or bike to that location, and they were upset about the loss of the popular retailer.

“This has been a mainstay for the community,” one Grosse Pointe mother told a store employee.

About 30 percent of the Ann Arbor-based company’s store network is expected to close by the end of April. In addition to the two local closures, a store in Arborland Mall in Ann Arbor and one in Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn bring the total to four stores to close in Michigan.

“The stores were chosen for closure because they are underperforming,” said Mary Davis of corporate affairs for Borders Group.

She said the company would try to reschedule events planned for the stores at other “area stores where it makes sense.”

Davis said that liquidators would be brought in to handle the store closings, and going-out-of-business sales could begin in the next few days with discounted inventory. Liquidation sales had already begun at at least some stores as of Feb. 19.

“We are confident that, with the protection afforded under Chapter 11 and with the support of employees, publishers, suppliers and creditors, and the reading public, a successful reorganization can be achieved enabling Borders to emerge from the process as a stronger and more vibrant book seller,” Edwards said in the statement.

Melissa McDonald of Sterling Heights was surprised to hear that the Utica store she frequents would close.

“I didn’t know,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s actually a relaxing place to be. I don’t think you should close a bookstore for educational purposes.”

“This is one of my regular stops,” said Geri Hippe of Allenton, who said that this is about as close a store as she can get to from her home more than 20 miles north of the area.

Nineteen-year-old Dustin Eckhout recently moved to the area. The Utica resident had come out to the store that day to enquire about a job.

“Guess bookshops are going out of business. A lot of things are,” he said.

A manager at the Grosse Pointe Borders confirmed that the store is among the ones slated to close, although she didn’t have an exact date.

The Grosse Pointe Borders has long been an anchor in The Village, being located inside what was once the Jacobson’s home store.

“Borders has been a member of The Village business community since 1998, and we will certainly miss their drawing power and prestige,” said John Denomme, manager of marketing and promotions for the Grosse Pointe Village Association. “These are difficult times to navigate a large retail chain through a contracting economy.”

Other Grosse Pointe officials expressed disappointment about the news, tempered by hope for what might replace the retailer.

“Obviously, the City is disappointed to hear it may be losing Borders in Grosse Pointe due to the chain’s financial difficulties,” City Manager Peter Dame said. “But with any loss comes an opportunity for something new. The Village is very resilient and an attractive place for business. The Village is seeing significant new or planned investment by large and small businesses, from Kroger’s recently finished new store and Beaumont’s partnership with the Neighborhood Club for (a new) health and wellness fitness center to two recent expansions of local restaurant Village Grille. There are few retail vacancies in The Village, and an opening for a new larger business does not come up often, (so) a good deal of private interest in this property is expected.”

Dame said the closure shouldn’t negatively impact the City’s plans for construction this summer on a new, gated parking lot to replace the metered lot behind Borders and Ace Hardware. He said the project “has always been contemplated as a public expense, paid for from the parking fund,” which comes from the money people feed into the meters.

“We are very sad that the Borders store in Grosse Pointe will be closing,” a spokesperson for the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce said. “The Borders building occupies a large space in the Grosse Pointe Village. We are hopeful that a new business will see the opportunities available in The Village.”

Information on the website set up by the corporation to address concerns about the filing, www. bordersreorganization.com, states that the company is not going out of business, that customers can still redeem gift cards at the closing stores — although they cannot be purchased at those stores anymore — and there will be no impact on Borders Reward program members or readers’ eBook library.

A list of FAQs and other information is available on that site.

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