Borders headed to liquidation

FRESNO, California

On Thursday, the company is expected to ask a bankruptcy judge to allow it to liquidate its remaining stores. Of the 399 stores in the country, three are in the Valley. The end of Borders could also mean a loss of 10,700 jobs. Liquidation could begin as soon as Friday. The announcement comes after a so called "white knight" deal fell through last week and in the middle of an evolving industry.

The Borders in River Park was among the first tenants at the shopping center more than a decade ago. While customers expressed their disappointment at news of liquidation Monday, not all were surprised. "It just seems that e-books have come to overtake the paper book," said Border's customer Valerie Janiel.

In a statement, Border's president attributed e-books and the economy to the company's current state. The statement from Borders Group President Mike Edwards said, "We were all working hard toward a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

Still, some Borders customers aren't ready to embrace the changes of that reader revolution. "I like the idea that you can put a book away for a while and you'll always have it. You can take it and share it with it and you can't do that with the fancy computer machines," said customer Joanne Alvarado.

Those changes have also amounted to challenges for smaller locally owned bookstores, like Fresno's Fig Garden Bookstore. The family owned business also expressed disappointment at news of Borders pending liquidation. "I'm sad. Anytime a bookstore closes it's sad. There's going to be a lot of people losing their jobs on every level and any less outlet for books is a sad thing for me," said owner Kathi Lamonski.

Management at River Park declined to speak about the future of Borders, citing the uncertainty of the situation. However, property manager Whitney Buford said River Park itself continues to thrive at 97 percent occupancy. "We have so many new things coming... Yard House being one of them, and Race Room, different, exciting, new things happening. So we're definitely focused on the positive and what River Park has to offer currently and in the future," said Buford.

The two other Borders stores in the Valley are located in Visalia and Hanford. Borders managers wouldn't comment Monday and corporate officials didn't return our calls. At its peak in 2003, the company owned more than 1,200 Borders and Waldenbooks stores, but now that number is down to 399.

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