NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Borders prepares to liquidate

Borders, the second largest bookstore chain in the United States, will soon be going out of business. The company announced today that it had run out of time to reorganize itself and would wind down its operations.

Borders said in a news release that it will proceed with a proposal by Hilco and the Gordon Brothers Group. That liquidation plan will be presented to the federal judge overseeing the company’s bankruptcy case on Thursday.

What is left to unwind are Borders’ 399 stores, about two-thirds of the locations it operated when it filed for bankruptcy in February. It currently has 10,700 employees.

Borders will begin closing  its remaining stores as soon as Friday, and the liquidation is expected to run through September.

The company has ten stores around Puget Sound, including one in downtown Redmond, NPI’s hometown, and another half-dozen stores in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Two (in Federal Way and Tacoma) were already in the process of closing, and now it looks all the others will be gone in a matter of weeks.

Borders’ demise will result in the loss of more than ten thousand jobs.

Although the Internet will undoubtedly be cited in many Borders obituaries as the cause of its demise, the reality is that the chain was doomed by poor management and questionable decisions. It didn’t collapse overnight; it’s been ailing for years. Half a decade has now gone by since Borders had a profitable quarter.

Borders could have survived, if it had closed underperforming stores earlier, not outsourced its online operations to Amazon, and done a better job of anticipating and controlling costs. But, like Circuit City and Blockbuster, it didn’t make the moves that it needed to in order to remain a going concern.

To put it more succinctly, the rise of ecommerce is not what killed Borders. Missed opportunities are what killed Borders.

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