The Village in Grosse Pointe will be losing one of its largest retailers: . The Ann Arbor based company announced a list of 200 closures throughout the country as part of its efforts to reorganize after filing for bankruptcy.
The Grosse Pointe store is one of four in Michigan that will close. The other locations are in Utica, Ann Arbor and Dearborn. The company operates 642 stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and employs 6,100 full-time employees and more than 11,000 part-time employees, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Jeremy Fielding, a Borders spokesman, said Wednesday the goal is to have all of the stores on the list closed by the end of April. The stores that appear on the list were those that were underperforming, he said.
Fielding said it is too early to determine whether the company will try to transfer employees to locations that are remaining open. Employees at the store said Wednesday they've been directed to not speak to any media.
Liquidation sales could begin as early as this weekend and will likely continue until the inventory is gone, at which time the stores will close up shop, siad Rosalind Thompson, a Borders senior vice president.
The store, which has been in the Village for about a decade, has been drawing less traffic than it did when it first opened, Village Association President Mike Kramer said.
Sad to lose it, Kramer said the association is just hopeful the large amount of space will allow for another significant retailer to move in.
The bookstore had been active, supportive members of the Village Association until last year when the company's financial hardship stopped them from renewing their membership, Kramer said.
"We never like to see any store leave," Kramer said. "It's one of the major retailers of the Village."
Despite Borders closing, the Village hasn't lost any other retailers in the last two years, which Kramer described as remarkable "given the economic difficulties in the last few years."
Borders moved in after Jacobson's moved its housewares division out of the building. The space Jacobson's use to occupy is now divided with Village Ace, Kramer said.
Two Grosse Pointe residents shopping at the Grosse Pointe Borders Wednesday said the bookstore will be missed.
Wallace Riley, 83, of the Farms, said he purchased a Mickey Mouse book for a 5-year-old girl who is at the hospital. He purchases many books at the local store but he said he also orders a great deal online when he isn't in need of having the book immediately.
In addition to buying gifts, if he's shopping for a book but doesn't know what he wants, he'll go to the store rather than looking online. That is part of the function of bookstores, is to be the local resource to find book advice, he said. Although he thinks Pointers will miss the local Borders, he questions the company's longterm viability even under a reorganization.
"It's not that Borders has changed," he said. "It's reading that has changed. It's going to be an uphill battle."
He is also concerned about what will occupy the space after Borders closes its doors. Grosse Pointe doesn't need another bank or realtors office, he said.
Lucretia Cracchiolo, of the Farms, was browsing the aisles Wednesday, said she was disappointed and surprised to hear about the closure. "It's always crowded," she said, noting she typically stops in once a week, sometimes more.
She often purchases items from the bookstore for her sons school projects, she said. Cracchiolo even has a reward system in place for her youngest son: every time he earns an A on his spelling tests, they come to Borders together where he gets to pick out a book. He will be disappointed, she said.
"What now we'll have to go to Mack?" she said questioningly.
Former Grosse Pointe Borders employee Patrick Flanagan, 26, a Pointer, said the struggle for the company really came when Kindle's were introduced. He left the store nearly two years ago but worked there for five years, beginning in 2004. He still keeps in touch with many of the current employees, he said.
The Grosse Pointe store also always struggled with trying to be a local boutique kind of bookstore rather than so corporate but with more struggle, the attitude became more corporate, he said. He loved working there and will miss the store, noting it had more character than most locations because many staff members live in the community and truly cared about the store.
"I think people will feel the loss. It seemed to tie the Village together," he said, listing off the many stores selling similar products that closed over the years before Borders moved in. The list included another chain bookstore and a music store. "Borders fit the empty space for books, music and cafe."
Another big issue at the Grosse Pointe store, he said, was the number of non-purchasing customers. Many people would come into the store, pick up a magazine, newspaper or book, read it in the cafe, sometimes even completing a crossword, and then leave without making a purchase. Sometimes some of these people were not even buying a cup of coffee from the cafe or they brought in coffee from neighboring businesses, he said.
owner Ellen Durand said the community should feel confident despite the store closing because the three-block downtown business/shopping district survived the closure of Jacobson's.
Durand said she is excited for the new community fitness/health building to be built this year by a partnership between and the .
Manager Pete Dame said in a written statement Wednesday that while the city never likes to see a retailer leave, large openings don't come available that often and this could present a great opportunity for a different business. There are not many vacancies in the Village now and there have been substantial investments in the existing businesses as well as a new restaurant that is underway.
The written statement also highlighted the Neighborhood Club/Beaumont Grosse Pointe partnership and soon-to-come building that is behind the Village. The 19,000 square-foot building is owned by a legal entity controlled by Borders.