The Columbia Borders and Borders Express, like all the stores in the bankrupt book franchise, are closing, leaving Howard County book lovers disappointed.
"It's devastating," Columbia resident Tonya Eady said after shopping Sunday, July 24 at the Borders in Columbia Crossing, which was covered in yellow, red and black going-out-of-business signs. "I hope they put another bookstore in its place because this is our hub."
Books-A-Million Inc., a chain that operates 231 stores across the country, had submitted a bid to buy 30 Borders stores, but the deal fell through when the parties could not agree on terms, the Baltimore Business Journal reported this week.
No specific closure dates have been set for shutting down any of the 399 Borders nationwide, but "all stores are expected to be wound down by September," Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said.
"Our stores are community hubs and gathering places for customers," Davis added. "We'resad to have to close."
Local book lovers were more than sad.
Calling the loss of Borders "a travesty," Elkridge resident Joseph Mendez said he's "got to find something to fill the gap."
Leaving the store with a bag full of books and magazines on Tuesday, July 26, Elkridge resident Laura Jensen said she would have to "rely on the library" more now.
"A lot of times the library doesn't have the new books," said Jensen, who reads two to three books a month and shops at Borders often. She noted that when the library does get new books and bestsellers, there is usually a long waiting list to check them out. "I'm really depressed," she said of the store closing.
At the entrance to the store this week, signs on the doors announced that the cafe and public restrooms were closed.
Inside, shoppers searched for deals on books, movies, CDs and more. Everything in the store was discounted, sometimes by as much as 40 percent. Red signs attached to every shelf listed the discount rate for each genre: 10 percent off on literature, gift cards and stationery, 20 percent off movies and 40 percent off magazines.
Signs hanging from the ceiling announced the sale's urgency, in all caps: "NOTHING HELD BACK! EVERYTHING MUST GO!"
Past the picked-over magazine section, the corner where customers used to sit with coffee and a book was cordoned off by black stanchions and yellow caution tape. Boxes filled with silverware, blenders, thermometers and a cake display sat on the floor, waiting to be packed away.
'It's a great store'
Columbia resident Rosetta Hayes said she doesn't know where she'll go to get "first-class cards and first-class books" like she got at Borders.
"It's a great store," she said. "It has everything, absolutely everything, including a cafe."
Hayes said she doesn't shop for books online, but Clarksville resident Sam Scott said that's probably what he'll start doing, though he prefers bookstores.
"I actually do like (Borders) better than Barnes and Noble because it seems more organized," he said. "They have more places to sit."
Scott, who said he shopped at Borders about once a month, said he liked to browse and sit down and read in the relaxed environment.
"It's a positive experience," Columbia resident Valeria Lassiter agreed. "When I come to Borders or any book store I feel good."
Lassiter said she would come to Borders about once a week to browse through the nonfiction selection, sit on a stool and read.
"People here are great; the salespeople here are readers," she said. "A couple people here I've built really good communication with."
Lassiter said she would like to see a local entrepreneur open a bookstore in the area. If not, she'll likely start shopping at some of the area's second-hand bookstores more often.
John McHale and his family go to Borders because its location is convenient to their Columbia home. He said he's "bummed" the store is closing because he likes the layout and the fact it has music.
"We go to Barnes and Noble also, but we prefer this," he said.
Staff reporter Amanda Yeager contributed to this report.