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Plaza Las Américas Borders lease to be auctioned Sept. 20

The 34,000 square-foot Borders bookstore in Plaza Las Américas will likely close by mid-month. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

The Plaza Las Américas Borders bookstore will be auctioned by a New York bankruptcy court on Sept. 20, opening the door for a group of local investors headed by entrepreneur Amaury Rivera to pick up the lease for the once thriving operation.

In the meantime, liquidators Hilco and Gordon Brothers are moving forward with plans to sell everything that is left. Over the busy Labor Day weekend, markdowns on books, movies, music and magazines ranged from 70 percent to 90 percent. The store will likely wind down by mid-month.

On Sunday, Rivera confirmed to News is my Business that the bid offer he submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York several weeks ago should be included in the upcoming hearing for the sale of all of Borders Group’s unexpired leases.

“The liquidator handling the Puerto Rico store has taken advantage of the fact that the Plaza Las Américas Borders was the highest seller to get rid of the most inventory it can,” said Rivera, who in the 1990s headed the operations of the defunct Centennial de Puerto Rico.

“They have also been able to make more money, as discounts here have not been as high as they have in the states,” he said.

The going-out-of-business sale also includes fixtures, which Rivera said responds to a request he submitted to the liquidator, particularly because the inventory included furniture from the former Carolina and Mayagüez locations that closed earlier this year.

As for the impending closing of the Plaza store, Rivera said “it has to [close] because this is a court process that involves huge debt by the company and that process has to be finalized, including paying off part of that debt with what’s sold at the stores.”

“They have to close and take inventory and then I can come into action, which is something that has been delayed more than I expected, since I had asked the liquidators to include the Plaza Las Américas store in the first round of auctions,” he said, referring to the process that is taking place later this week.

The inventory of books, movies and music left at Plaza Las Américas Borders store is heavily discounted.

While dozens of stateside stores have already closed, the remaining Borders store in Puerto Rico remains open as it has been selling off leftover inventory from other locations, he said.

During its peak, Borders in Plaza Las Américas — which opened in 1990 — was one of the chain’s best performers with some $23 million in sales. Activity leveled off at about $17.6 million, a figure Rivera described as excellent.

For the proposed transaction, Rivera has surrounded himself with a group of investors that includes Florida’s Books & Books as well as publisher Penguin Books, as well as local backing.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 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 segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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