After lamenting the closing of Borders, our beloved bookstore and the only new book retailer in the tri-county area, rumors began circulating that several chain locations were being purchased by Books-A-Million. While Borders was undergoing bankruptcy proceedings this past summer, BAM made a bid for 30 locations — but were rejected. As our local store liquidated and closed its doors, we drove somberly past the shell of what was once our favorite hang-out. Our bookstore was gone.
But exciting news reached us in October: BAM had, in fact, purchased Borders’ old spot in town. They would be opening again with new inventory. Even without the shelves once holding countless paperbacks and hardcovers, we would have a literary depository again.
And they were right. Over the last month we’ve seen trucks arriving and crews unloading palettes of boxes — a daunting task I remember from my own bookseller days. Friends, family and coworkers all chatted excitedly about how we really were getting a new store, and speculation ran rampant over whether or not they would open in time for the holidays.
The folks at BAM obviously aren’t fools. Not opening before Black Friday and the onslaught of the Christmas shopping season would be a huge financial risk, so it was with great excitement — great excitement — that Spencer and I wandered in last week.
It was a soft opening, I guess; BAM flung open its doors without any fanfare. A small banner on the exterior announced the place was “Now Open,” and that — plus the dozens of cars in the parking lot — was the only thing alerting us to its opening. It was actually really strange walking in again . . . little remodeling was done, leaving the former Borders location mostly intact. The paint and carpet are the same. Even the book genres are located in mostly the same spots, including the children’s and fiction sections — and that was cool, but definitely weird.
After all my sadness and disappointment over losing Borders, it was like my store had been resurrected from the dead. And trust me — I’m totally not complaining. Walking in felt like coming home. But it was a little strange, too, to be in a Borders that wasn’t a Borders.
It’s going to take me a really long time to call it “Books-A-Million,” which is sort of a mouthful. Though I feel silly calling it BAM!
While I’m sorting out my feelings about all that, though, I’ll be off shopping. And just in time for Black Friday.