The original Borders was like a church to me. It was bright inside, with a mezzanine, and crowded with tables stacked with new releases. A wall in the center, like the bookstore’s heart, held Staff Recommendations. Since the staff were mostly grad students, the selection was eclectic and inspiring. I saw books there that I never saw anywhere else.
I didn’t shop in the original Borders as an undergrad. Who had time to read anything not on the Required Reading list? Once I scored the job as the secretary for the entire undergrad English student body, I needed the escape of a good book. Borders was a block away down State Street.
I still have fond memories of that store, although it hasn’t been in that space for years. When I heard that Kmart was buying the Borders name, I hoped for that same experience -- the light, the wall of ideas -- but of course a chain couldn’t live up to that shining ideal.
The way I shop has changed, too. When I was younger, I went into a bookstore to browse. I had time to read any and all things. I could let a bookstore guide my reading by what it had in stock. Now I don’t go into a bookstore without a list of books I want. The only bookstore in San Francisco that could live up to that was the four-story Borders on Union Square.
That Borders closed earlier this year and I couldn’t bring myself to pick its bones. They hosted a fundraiser for me when I did my first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. To my surprise, the Borders staff gave generously. In 2009, they hosted one of the stops on the Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues tour. It was heady, standing in the corner of the second floor, looking down on Union Square, seeing the cable car go by and feeling like a part of the literary history of San Francisco. The staff were kind and enthusiastic and invited me to come back again for my next book. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Last night I read that Borders Corporation is done. They are throwing in the towel and closing the remaining shops, laying off almost 11,000 people. The liquidation sales may start as soon as Friday. The news has me feeling melancholy. Borders hasn’t been what I loved for a long time, but we continued to have a relationship nonetheless. I was just in the Stonestown branch on Saturday…
Goodbye, Borders. I will miss you.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports