With 39 Borders closing in California, indies look for opportunity
>By Wendy Werris, publishersweekly.com:
Because California is losing more Borders stores than any other state in the country, the region’s booksellers are uniquely poised to find ways to turn the ramifications of the bankruptcy proceedings to their advantage. “In the long run, the indies will benefit because there will be fewer outlets selling books,” says Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, referring to the possible exodus by former Borders customers from the bankrupt chain to NCIBA member indie stores. “Still, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen until everything shakes out and the liquidation sales are over.” Borders is closing 39 locations in California. Major cities such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are all losing two outlets each, while about two dozen smaller cities are losing stores.
Borders is closing 26 stores in Southern California, where Books Inc. only has one outlet. Now Tucker is looking at the Los Angeles region as a possible area for expansion. “We were heading in that direction in fall of ’08, but got derailed by the economy,” he says. “Suddenly it’s looking good again. There are some great locations down there.” He hopes to find jobs for former Borders employees as well; Books Inc. has seen a sharp increase in applicants from the chain in the past few weeks. “There are some fine booksellers at Borders,” Tucker says. “We’ve hired about 25 of them in the last 18 months.”
Jennifer Bigelow, executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, echoes Landon’s take on the Borders bankruptcy. “Yes, there is definitely opportunity out there that didn’t exist before,” she says. “I think Borders customers will find our indies here.” Bigelow has already had a few calls from possible booksellers looking for information about opening new stores. She has referred them to areas where Borders is closing and encourages them to investigate the demographics of neighborhoods that will soon be void of any bookstores.
Are Borders closing in your area or neighborhood? Are indies popping up? Are you an indie? Let us know in the comments.