Time is running out for the Borders bookstore in Carolina, which is set to close on April 15 — just two weeks shy of the contractual deadline that Illinois-based Hilco Merchant Resources, LLC has to finish liquidating as much as it can from the stores destined to close.
The once thriving store is now practically empty, with everything — including most fixtures — heavily discounted or in boxes. Discounts range from 50 percent to 70 percent on books, movies, magazines, CDs and other miscellaneous merchandise that the
“I don’t want to be here anymore. I mean, I wanted to be here when this store was a store. Now, it’s just depressing to come to work,” said a Borders employee in Carolina, who has remained at her job through the liquidation sale.
The Carolina store, along with another location in Mayagüez, was included in a list of 200 stores that Ann Arbor-based Borders Group announced it would close as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization process filed Feb. 16. In its filing, the embattled retailer said following the liquidation sale, it will look for buyers for the 17,000 square-foot stand-alone Carolina location and 15,000 square foot Mayagüez property. In all about 70 people will lose their jobs.
“I have to hurry up and find another job, because I can’t be without work for long,” said another Carolina store employee, as she oversaw the sale of BluRay and DVD movies left on the shelves tucked away in a corner of the store.
Ultimately, Hilco is looking to make as much as it can from the store inventories, as it paid $155 million for the right to empty them for a profit before April 30. As part of the agreement, Hilco agreed to pay Borders 85.75 percent of the “cost value” of all merchandise, which could fluctuate between $180.6 million and $204 million, Bloomberg reported late last week.
Borders attorney David Friedman told the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York in February that the store closings would bring in about $175 million for the chain’s creditors, Bloomberg further noted.
After the two local stores close, the one remaining location at Plaza las Américas will be under added pressure to meet its parent company’s sales goals, as it has done so far. In February, an industry source told News is my Business that the Mayagüez store never met the $14 million annual sales goal, barely reaching $8 million in its first year. The Carolina location, meanwhile, was never profitable, the source said.
Borders is expected to pull out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in coming months, with a new focus on its online and e-book business, according to reports.
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Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.