Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farewell to another old friend

West Oaks Mall Borders Closing Store Front
West Oaks Mall Florida Border's closing

Ever since Border's finally filed for chapter 11, I knew this day was coming. I just didn't know how bad. For the Orlando area the news is pretty bleak; out of five stores in Orlando, only one will be left open, the Border's in Winter Park, across the street from the Volvo Store.

West Oaks Mall Borders Closing

We'd gone to the West Oaks PetSmart to drop the Labs off for their simi-monthly grooming. That's when we saw the sign by the side of the road announcing the store closing.

West Oaks Mall Borders Closing Front of Store

As soon as you walked in you were overwhelmed by all the "Going out of Business" and so-an-so off signs hanging from just about everywhere.

West Oaks Mall Borders Closing Children's Section

Since this had been going on a bit before we got there, the back half of the store had already been pretty well cleaned out, with the remainder consolidated and moved towards the front.

The West Oaks Border's has been there for twelve years, ever since the mall itself first opened. I'd come to know some of the staff at that Border's, including one woman who'd gone to work there when another book store she'd been working at in the same area, a Little Professor, closed before this Border's first opened.

I'm sure there will be at least one business case written about this company and this episode, and there will be others ready to pontificate on the various sins Border's committed that helped lead up to this closing. But as a local, I will say this. I've watched major chains such as Border's come in and eventually eliminate the smaller independent businesses they competed with, absorbing the locals who once worked at the independents, and then, at some future point in time and based on some arbitrary set of metrics, make the decision to close the chains in local areas and put a lot of hard working people out of a job.

A local independent is going to fight a lot harder to hang in as a business than an indifferent chain. I've known enough local entrepreneurs through the decades to speak with some authority to this fact, as I have the chains. Every local entrepreneur I know of is still in business (some even into retirement), while a number of the chains have either gone through similar upheavals, or simply folded and left, cutting their losses (Circuit City).

Watching businesses fold over the last five years has been bad enough. For whatever reason, this one is hitting harder than the others. I sincerely wish all the former Border's staffers everywhere the best of luck in their searches.

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