AnnArbor.com, 18 July 2011: Borders Group, Inc. plans to liquidate, marking the culmination of a years-long decline for the nation’s second largest bookstore chain, which had fallen into disrepair four decades after it opened its first store in downtown Ann Arbor. The liquidation, which Borders announced shortly after 4:10 p.m., means that the 10,700 people who still work for Borders — including about 400 at its Ann Arbor headquarters — will lose their jobs. The Ann Arbor-based chain’s 399 remaining stores will be closed quickly, with liquidation sales starting as soon as Friday
No surprise. And no mystery as to Borders demise. I worked at Borders Corporate for eleven and a half years, and watched its disintegration close-up. Borders fatal mistake was to be caught flat-footed at the beginning of the e-commerce era. The Higher-Ups on the third floor at 100 Phoenix Drive in Ann Arbor sneered at Amazon.com, only reluctantly building an inferior, penny-ante internet site, all the while continuing a remarkably dumb strategic plan of building twenty-to-forty new Superstores a year, most of them in awful locations with terrible leases. Once Borders thick-headed management finally realized online sales were the future of book retailing, they didn’t have the capital necessary to play internet catch-up, as the red ink flowed from dead weight stores and fruitless remodels. The once-haughty Borders executive team was forced to sign a humiliating chump change partnership deal with Amazon, and the once-proud book store chain began its fifteen year slide to the dustbin of AmerICKan retail history.
[Borders would get caught similarly flat-footed at the dawn of the e-book era, but by then its shortsightedness didn’t matter, the chain was already on life support, waiting for its creditors to pull the plug.]
Borders might have been able to survive for another ten-to-twenty years had the executives admitted defeat on e-commerce and e-books, and recommitted to SELLING BOOKS. . .there is a huge aging population in AmerICKa that actually enjoys browsing through bookstores, and had Borders targeted them, they could have forestalled the chain’s extinction, but one idiotic CEO after another tried to paper over Borders colossal e-commerce mistake with retarded retail gimmicks--all at the expense of BOOKS. . .book inventory shrunk year by year, with the floor space devoted to faggot British stationary, wind-up toys, snack racks and an embarrassing collection of electronic gizmos, meant to suggest to Borders was *cutting edge,* but in reality only signaled Borders’ cluelessness (for example, precious retail floor space was wasted on an asinine cd burning station where Borders’ executives thought customers would line-up to burn their own music cds--apparently the Borders’ brain trust had never heard of a little thing called the iPod). Had Borders been content to remain a BOOK STORE, and not stupidly cut book inventory in favor of garbage its core customers had no interest in, I truly believe it could have survived for at least another decade. . .and maybe by then, it could have found a CEO who would actually be ahead of whatever the next retail curve turns out to be.
The sorry lot of Borders CEOs, VPs and Directors were the dumbest, most self-deluded people I’ve ever met. Here are a few of my *favorites:*
Greg J. They hired this dumb pollack from some Chicago grocery store chain. Apparently he convinced the Board of Directors he could save the company by running book stores the same way he ran grocery stores. This dumb pollack brought over the same grocery store inventory system and tried to apply it to books. *Category Management,* he called it. He single-handedly forever ruined Borders book inventory system by insisting, despite steadily declining sales, he could sell Dostoevsky the same way he sold frozen peas in Chicago. What a dumb fucking pollack. The company wasted untold millions over the years trying, never successfully, to repair the damage done by Greg J.’s dumb pollack inventory system.
The Nameless One. His name is never recorded in any of the numerous articles that have been written documenting Borders’ decline and fall over the last fifteen years. That’s because Borders has carefully concealed his stunningly brief reign as CEO. Lured away from a Big New York Publishing House, the Nameless One spent most of his few weeks as Borders Boss by roaming the halls of the corporate office looking for free food, and leering at the pretty, young female admins. When the creepy-looking creep was caught on a parking lot security camera *violating company policy,* the Board of Directors decided it would be wiser to offer the Nameless One millions in stock options to quietly walk away than to turn the matter over to law enforcement officials. The Board of Directors made many decisions which were more harmful to the company, but none were more morally reprehensible.
George J. A plump runt who was shit-canned by Saks, but he somehow conned the Board of Directors into thinking a former tenure at Warner Bros. Stores was sufficient for him to lead a turnaround at Borders. George’s bright idea to save Borders was to sign a bunch of celebrities to write books exclusive for Borders!! What if Madonna or Jennifer Anniston wrote a novel that was only available at Borders!! Woo-hoo!! George spent most of his time in Los Angeles shamelessly star-sniffing, but all that ever came of it was this ridiculous offering, now, ironically, only available from peddlers of used books on Amazon.com. George J., however, was “blown away” by this *book,* proving you should never hire an illiterate to run a book store. George’s All-Hands meetings were an unintentional laugh riot, tawdry Hollywood choreographed abominations in which he was forever proclaiming he was working on several partnership deals that would transform Borders into the Number One Media Retailer of the future. He could never divulge any particulars of the details of these partnerships, they were always just a couple of months away from being finalized, he didn’t want to jeopardize the delicate negotiations, but he assured us we would be “blown away” once he could make the announcements official. Needless to say, nothing ever came of groupie George’s daydreams.
Ken A. George J. brought Ken along with him from the Saks unemployment line. Let’s put it this way: if George J. was Billy Martin, then Ken A. was Art Fowler. Ken spent most of his time at Borders in the third floor men’s room, relieving himself of the previous night’s libations. Bulbous red-nosed Ken was a real life Willy Loman. . .it was a painful experience to watch this broken figure struggle through his brief moments during George’s absurd All-Hands meetings.
Steve D. The quintessential yes man. This paunchy sycophant never met a new CEO’s plan he didn’t believe in “one hundred percent.” He never had an idea of his own, but he lasted as a VP or President (and made a shitload of money) for over a decade by being the consummate corporate mediocrity, always bumbling along and farting Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Ron M. Prick. Zero personality. Zero people skills. He was the vampire who sucked the last blood from Borders, then ran off in the middle of the night to A&P (!?!?). He left behind a human turd named Skip C., a pencil neck midget who was forever boasting of his miniscule accomplishments at. . .Joanne Fabrics (!?!?!?).
This marked the end of my time at Borders, and what has gone on in the past few months, under the default CEO, Mike Edwards, I have no idea, other than it must have been pretty gruesome. . .Borders hospice.
I liked working at Borders. As stupid and offensive as the executives were, the regular Joes who worked there were a decent bunch, and I never had to labor more than three hours out of an eight hour day--which was true for almost everybody at Corporate, its bloated staff being one more sign of incompetent management.
Those soft, EZ corporate office jobs are fast disappearing in AmerICKa, and I doubt most of those who have worked at Borders will ever have it so good again. I know I haven’t. Now I have to work for a living, and it sucks.
O God, why did Borders just have to be a little bit stupider than Barnes & Noble???
Anyway, may God in particular bless the following ex-Borders employees:
Joe G. Mike S. Jerry R. Suzane the cafeteria cashier. Jessica U. (who with her skimpy wardrobe single-handedly forced Borders to change their dress policy). Nicole C. And
Jersey Shore Jill L.
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