It was business as usual at Gig Harbor's Borders bookstore Wednesday, despite the news that the store was among 200 nationwide that the company will close as it reorganizes under bankruptcy court protection.
The Gig Harbor store and 199 other underperforming stores nationwide will lock their doors by April, said Mary Davis, a Borders corporate spokeswoman.
That end could come sooner for some outlets if going-out-of-business sales clear the shelves sooner than expected. Those sales will begin this weekend.
Borders Group Inc., the bookstores’ parent company, sought bankruptcy Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, after competition from online booksellers, electronic book readers and warehouse stores choked down sales again in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Among those ambitious and successful competitors are two Washington companies, Seattle’s Ama zon.com and Issaquah’s Costco Wholesale Corp.
Borders listed debts of $1.29 billion and assets of $1.28 billion in its bankruptcy petition.
The company said it hopes to return to profitability by shuttering nearly a third of its 642 stores nationwide.
Only two of those stores are clos ing in Washington, in Gig Harbor and Lynnwood.
The Borders Gig Harbor store is an anchor retailer in the Uptown Gig Harbor shopping center on Point Fosdick Drive Northwest. The 23,000-square-foot store opened three years ago.
For some Borders customers, the imminent closures were sad news.
Dave Schlenker of Portland was reading in one of the Gig Harbor store’s leather chairs Wednesday when he heard the news.
“It’s really sad,” he said. “It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon.”
Schlenker said he visits Borders to read whenever he has a few idle hours when he’s traveling. He pre fers Borders’ ambiance to that of its more successful brick-and-mortar rival, Barnes & Noble.
“This is just my favorite,” he said. “They’ve got a better selection of the exotic car magazines I like.”
Another Wednesday afternoon visitor to Borders’ Gig Harbor store, commercial real estate broker John Hartigan, said he was inspecting the space with an eye for re-leasing it to new tenants.
The space is large enough that it will require a major tenant, he said. The balcony where the bookstore’s coffee bar is located may make the space more difficult to rent, he said.
“Most tenants have no need for a balcony,” he said.
A tenant such as Trader Joe’s might be able to use the space, although that notion, he said, is based on speculation. He’s had no contact with the specialty grocer.