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Borders closes the book on Lutherville store

Lutherville resident Joan Dier and her friend Melissa Serra, of Monkton, work for the State of Maryland at an office near Lutherville, and they're regular visitors to the Borders bookstore in the Yorkridge Shopping Center on West Ridgely Road.

"We come here almost three times a week," said Dier, 50.

The pair work just a short walk from the store, and they come for coffee and snacks more than for books.

On July 21, Serra, 42, said she and Dier had visited Borders every day that week.

"Today we got our favorite snack, which won't be here anymore," Dier said.

The Borders bookstore in Lutherville, like all Borders stores, will be gone for good in a matter of months.

In a July 18 statement from Borders Group, the bookstore's corporate parent, the company said it would be liquidating all assets and closing the stores.

"Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development," said Mike Edwards, president of the Borders Group, in a statement.

"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, eReader revolution and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now," he said.

Borders Group is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., and has 399 stores and 10,700 employees. The company is liquidating as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Subject to court approval, bankruptcy liquidation started July 22, with closures expected to conclude by the end of September, the statement said.

On July 21, the Borders in Lutherville was still full of books, but it wouldn't last long. Though employees were not authorized to speak to the press, one employee said the location had set the wheels in motion to begin its going-out-of-business sale July 22.

For Joan Dier and Melissa Serra, it's time to buy those books they've been browsing through week after week.

"This is it," Dier said.

Neither seemed inclined to go somewhere else for their coffee or book fix.

"I go here from work because it's convenient," said Serra. "I wouldn't be doing it every day if it wasn't here."

Dier said she doesn't want to visit Barnes and Noble in Towson.

"It's not really convenient for parking," she said.

The parking lot at York Ridge Shopping Center is vast, with several entrances and exits, and the whole affair is within sight of York Road.

Shopping epilogue

In the same shopping center as Borders are about 15 other businesses.

About 10 of those are small, but with anchors such as Kohls department store, a Michael's craft store, at least one bank and an Old Navy clothing store, it's difficult to know for sure how remaining businesses will be affected by Border's closing.

"We'd prefer they didn't close," said Dave Chatha, manager of Buttons Liquors in the York Ridge Shopping Center.

Chatha seemed less worried about a lack of business than he was about customer safety.

"If lots of people are walking around late at night, it's safer," Chatha said.

If the loss of Borders were to reduce foot traffic, that sense of security might fade some, he said.

Already, the shopping center has two small, empty storefronts.

Greg Pitarra is owner of Bruno's Hair Design in the shopping center, but his salon is at the end farthest from Borders, and he doesn't believe its closure will affect his business.

"We've been in business for like 60 years," Pitarra said. "We have an established clientele."

"But I'm sad they're closing," Pitarra said. "It's kind of a shame."

The bookstore's closure will, of course, affect employees. The store manager and other employees said they've been asked not to speak to the press. Borders' corporate media relations office was contacted July 22 for information about the number of people employed at the Lutherville store, but the call was not returned in time for publication.

Last week, at least a dozen employees could be seen in the store midday.

Customer Michael McCartin, 59, grew up in the area and lives in Norrisville during the summer, but travels to the South for winter.

He was at the Lutherville Borders on July 21, but said he won't miss the store because he doesn't visit often. Still, McCartin is not indifferent to the closure.

"I just hate to see bookstores go out of business," he said.

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