Gresham Borders begins liquidation
But a replacement bookstore may be on the horizon
The page has turned on Gresham's largest bookstore, as all 399 Borders Group stores began liquidation sales on Friday and will officially go out of business by September.
'We're sad,' said Carol Gross of Troutdale. 'There's really no other bookstore close to here.'
On Thursday, July 21, Judge Martin Glenn, U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York, approved Borders Group to liquidate its assets through Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group.
'Borders is probably one of my favorite stores in the world,' said Fred Bruning, one of Gresham Station Shopping Center's original developers. 'I've been in retail for 33-34 years and I'm used to seeing names go out and new names come in. I'm actually surprised at how sad I feel about Borders because usually I look at it more as just a business thing.'
Borders was one of the original tenants when Gresham Station first opened, and having a bookstore in the center was an important point for Bruning.
'When I was first developing the center ... we were talking to local brokers in the Portland area and one looked at our site plan and said a bookstore would never work because …people in East County don't read,' Bruning said. 'I took that as a personal challenge to get a bookstore and Borders came in and they were successful from day one.'
Despite the looming closure of Borders stores, one positive note is that Books-a-Million, a bookstore chain based in Birmingham, Ala., will purchase about 30 locations and merchandise. Once Borders liquidates, Books-a-Million will be the second largest bookseller in the U.S.
Bruning said one of the stores that Books-a-Million is interested in purchasing is the Gresham location.
'If I was a betting person, I would bet that Books-a-Million would end up taking the Gresham store,' he said.
Also a silver lining is cheap books for the next few weeks, until the store runs out of merchandise. All merchandise is on sale for up to 40 percent off. Borders Rewards PLUS members will be able to use their discount through Aug. 5. Borders Bucks will expire July 31 and gift cards are good until the store closes.
Steve Martin, owner of Recycled Reads used bookstore in downtown Gresham, said it's 'unfortunate' to see the store close because of its significance for the literary community.
'I really fear that the printed word's time is done, with more and more people consuming electronic media,' Martin said.
And, he added, Borders is only the beginning.
'I'm afraid it's just a mater of time before we see other bookstores go that way,' he said. 'This is not the direction we want the industry to be going in.'
If Borders isn't replaced by another bookstore, the closure will leave a hole in the Gresham book market, with only a few other small-scale stores in the area. Mt. Hood Community College student Christine Handke, 20, said she routinely purchased books from Borders for presents and fun reads for herself, as well as for classes in both high school and college.
'It makes me sad,' Handke said. 'I've always come here for books because it's the closest bookstore. Whenever I'm thinking about buying a book, this is my go-to place.'
The loss of Borders not only means fewer books, but it also means a loss of literary appreciation.
'The people who worked there are passionate about books and very knowledgeable,' Martin said. 'Just on that basis alone it's very sad we're losing that resource.'
'The Borders employees are some of the nicest, kindest most knowledgeable people I know,' he said.