Liquidation sale begins at River Park Borders
Bethany Clough / The Fresno Bee
The end is near for Borders bookstores, with all three Valley locations launching going-out-of-business sales Friday.
The bankrupt chain is liquidating all its 399 locations, including stores in Fresno’s River Park, Visalia’s Sequoia Mall and the Borders Express in Hanford Mall.
Sales could last into September.
“I think it’s sad,” said Victoria Yu of Fresno as she picked up a $5.99 hardcover book at the River Park store. “I think it’s a shame.”
She was part of a steady stream of shoppers who checked out the discounts Friday.
Most books were discounted 10%, with other items discounted up to 40%. Greater discounts are expected later.
Five outside companies are handling the liquidation and accepting store gift cards.
Shoppers mourned the downfall of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain, which had 1,249 stores at its peak and less than half that when it filed for bankruptcy in February. Critics said the chain was slow to adapt to the changing industry and lost sales to the Internet and other competition.
This week, River Park developer Ed Kashian had held out hope that another retailer would buy the River Park location, saying Thursday that it was “very possible” Books-A-Million could take it over.
Alabama-based Books-A-Million is in talks with Borders to take over 30 of its stores. But Fresno was not on a list of stores Books-A-Million is interested in, released by The Associated Press Friday.
Books-A-Million’s average size is smaller than the River Park location, and the retailer is focused on expanding on the East Coast, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail consultant.
No one knows what’s next for the River Park site, but it is expected to be snapped up quickly.
The 25,000-square-foot space had potential renters sniffing around it weeks ago, before Borders announced its liquidation, said River Park spokeswoman Tracy Kashian.
Green said the center is appealing to retailers because its focus on entertainment brings customers in from all over the Valley.
He said the space could take about a year to fill, which is fast in the retail leasing world.
The guessing game of what retailer will take over the space already has begun. Green said he could foresee Best Buy, which is looking to downsize, move into the space, or retailers like grocer Sprouts Farmers Market or Total Wine & More, a wine superstore.
The Borders in Visalia’s Sequoia Mall may take longer to fill. The mall is about half empty, according to a retail broker.
And with no Barnes & Noble in town, shoppers like Roxanne Juarez of Visalia are wondering where they’ll buy books.
“That’s the only [large] bookstore we have in town,” she said.