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Friday, July 22, 2011

Decline and fall of "The Office"

I'm not sure why I'm even devoting time to it, but I thought it bore some sort of significance.  By now, everyone knows that Borders has been permitted to go into liquidation, following a last-ditch effort to find a buyer.


I received this "touching" little message from the soon to be unemployed CEO last night:


http://ebm.e.borders.com/c/tag/hBOKNiQAQfEXsB8cdgOAREZWfVz/doc.html?t_params=I_FROM%3D1%26EMAIL%3Dtgfabthunderbird%2540yahoo.com%26VALUE_1%3DYBX1001&cmpid=SA_20110721


You can take this a lot of different ways, but sadly I think it is more that the corporation did not learn from its terrible mistakes.  


Dennis Loy Johnson, aka MobyLives, wrote a very good piece that touched on matters that the media has not done much with:


http://mhpbooks.com/mobylives/?p=34730


Essentially, we know what happened.  Borders missed the bus, in terms of the changing tides of the business.  They were late in getting on board with the e-readers, they continued to overcharge in just about every area, and their efforts to keep people coming in with huge discount coupons (for the Rewards Program members, only I think) was not enough.


Too many things went wrong, and another of these was a desperate attempt to get "big."  The land grab in the 90's to secure more properties was bad enough, but opening a slew of new stores across the nation proved to be their downfall yet again.  Too big, not enough different, and too expensive.


Sorry, but 19$ for a CD is too fucking much.  Sure, they did keep the prices down on certain things, but you knew that it was not going to be good.


I may be one of the few in the minority, but the music was the reason I went there to shop.  Books were 2nd choice, unless I needed something in parrticular or just wanted something new to read.


As the music racks got smaller, and then they crammed everything together in five categories, I think we all saw the writing on the wall.  


Borders for the area I live in was not just a store; it became my Office, and it became a way of life for a lot of folks.  You saw the regulars, who came in for the coffee, a place to sit and socialize and to get needed human contact.  It is a social gathering site, the way a Morebucks, a Barnes and Noble, even public libraries are like.


I've lived in York going on 12 years, and the Borders was the only place to go.  I do NOT patronize the mall, because unless there's something I want in there, I have no interest in going there.  


I made a lot of good friends there, including the workers.  I feel the worst for then, because they must now preside over the demolition of their store as the bargain-hunting mooks charge in to rape, pillage, sack and destroy.


Not their fault; in an economy like this, they may not have a choice.  I went by there this morning, and found the place closed, due to a power failure.  50 people, most of the mooks, plus a crew from Fox 43 was there to document the coming carnage.


I felt ill just being there, and I left.  The one item I wanted does not seem so needful anymore.


We are not just losing another almost iconic business (Borders was first opened as a stand alone store in '71), we are losing a part of ourselves.  We have yet another empty building, another monument to something that has nothing left to it.


I'm sure Barnes and Noble is already set to move on the place; but I don't know for sure.  I'm really just guessing, but it would be a smart move, as B/N has no presence here.  


Will I go there?  Probably.  We all adapt and change, or at least we should.


I am right now at the Morebucks, because of a need to rehydrate, but I'm outside as the entire inside is packed.  The counter girl used to work at Borders and asked me, "Where will you go, now the Office is closed?"


I don't know.  One of my friends has suggested that the libraries around the country figure out a way to put a cafe in their places.  The Martin Library downtown has done so, but I'm unimpressed by their selection.  I've never really liked that place.


Of course, I could spend a lot less money by making my own coffee (which I do at times) and stay home.  Considering how much of my income was spent at Borders over the years, that also might be interesting.  


Still and all, the social club atmosphere of a group of generally more intelligent people (not all of them to be sure) has been lost to us.  What now do they do?


I know what I'm doing.  They will move on and populate the new Morebucks, the old Morebucks, and probably whatever comes into the old Office space.  


In the end, we are reminded that change is inevitable and we must change with it.  I'll miss the Office, as it was a part of my life for so many years, but like the death of an old friend, we have to move forward on onward.


***


For those who wonder, my blog will remain the outpost for "Take Another Road," and you will find the first two chapters preceding this.  Chapter 3 will not likely be ready for a little while.

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