A solid read on the death of a staple of Ann Arbor. Bacon Blog
John U. Bacon on Borders
This still makes me sad. I did the same thing as he did, just last weekend...visited town and made a point of wandering around, picking out a few last books, saying goodbye. Ann Arbor will never be quite the same for me.
My 1st Border's experience was in Novi. A great place to get lost for a while.
Change is never easy and this one doesn't seem right.
Can’t see my daughter
Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order
We met at Borders
Told her she take me back
I’ll be more supportive
We met at Barnes and Nobles just doesnt rhyme.
Not to be dismissive of anyone's nostalgia, but I've always enjoyed my time spent in Dawn Treader waaaay more than my time spent in Borders. The overwhelming majority of my stops into Borders were for last second birthday gifts for people whose tastes I didn't know.
There have been others, too. Establishments with far more longevity: how many remember Drake's Sandwich Shop? Open for 70 years, gone for almost 20. Or the Pretzel Bell? Open for 50 years, closed just before I started at U-M.
Of course, there are still places that make Ann Arbor unique (Ashley's comes to mind; so does Stucchi's Ice Cream, and - of course - Zingerman's). But it seems that too many of these places get replaced by chains with "character" carefully tested by marketing consultants.
But even Ashley's and Zingerman's change. Zingerman's 20 years ago was a really awesome sandwich place. Zingerman's today is a feelgood corporate foodie behemoth that also sells overpriced sandwiches that are dwarves of what you got there back in the day. Seriously, ordering a Zingerman's sandwich today is almost a disappointment. They totally scrimp on everything now. Used to be that package was bulging. Now... Not so much. And it's 4 bucks more.
And Ashley's... Service has been going down pretty consistently the last three or four years, the food isn't nearly as good as it was before, and the staff is nowhere near as knowledgeable about their product as they used to be.
Long story short, Ann Arbor doesn't exist in a vacuum. They come and they go, Hobbs. I remember Borders as that awesome bookstore that sold things you couldn't find anywhere else, which perfectly complimented the four record stores in the State and Liberty area where you could buy music you couldn't find anywhere else. Now, there's two record stores and no Borders. Or, for that matter, David's.
But I'm still getting over the fact he said "the package was bulging".
Schoolkids used to be two stores. The main one, and the separate SKR Classical store, which if memory serves, was over on Liberty. Then there was Discount Records underneath David's, where Potbelly is now. Wazoo, above Ashley's, which is still there. Encore, of course. There were three more stores over on South U, too. And PJ's, over at the corner of Hill and State. Ann Arbor was an amazing place to record shop up until the late 90s.
Now there's just Wazoo, Encore, PJ's, and Underground Sounds. It's sad. Those are still some great stores that rival the best you'll see elsewhere, but it's a shadow of what it used to be.
on South U (oddly, it's breakfast there I remember most).
I second the nostalgia for Del Rio. It was the hangout of choice way back in its day. I can't count how many burritos I ate at the bar and how much beer washed the aformentioned burritos down.
Re: Zingermans...this is, IMHO, a sad story. Twenty years ago this was a great place. I certainly understand that they strive to use the best ingredients to give you that "Zingermans" experience, but at some point you just look at the price point vs. the product and gasp. A sandwich is $15, and there is virtually nothing on it. For about the same price, a pastrami sandwich in NYC (with better pastrami) will give you at least 4x the meat as Zingys. Zingerman's has become THE AA food emporium, but I now feel more ripped off than satisfied when I leave. Sadly, I no longer visit there on my trips back to AA.
Borders haven't made a profit since '06, IMO they got into the e-reader trend way too late
Also with the economy being what it is, people are re-discovering these things called public libraries where you can get books for free....
They're the ones who respond to international calamities with "Doctors without Borders". Now we're all without Borders.
Borders was an icon for booksellers in the industry.
Tom Borders wrote the software that the company rode into superstoredom based on a simple inventory management program that in a savvy bookbuyers hands allowed authors to build sales in stores\markets with less reliance on publisher marketing.
The tiered display of titles now an industry standard was a trademark of early Borders management as well. Nobody did these table displays as well as Borders.
It's a different day...life goes on...books themselves are on notice in many respects...but I bemoan the loss of luxury that was Borders both for my own nostalgia and for the incoming class of Michigan undergrads.
My first experience at a Borders was the one on Southfield Rd in Beverly Hills (I think). That one wasn't as huge as the average Borders would become, but it seemed gigantic at the time. When I first went to the A2 one a few years later, it was mind-bogging. Very surreal to see the rise and fall of a chain in a couple decades' time. I went back to the original one last week and it was sad - the shelves were looking ransacked. I wish they could somehow keep that one store open, at least.
How is Barnes & Noble doing? I'm rooting for them to stick it out, but if Borders can't survive, I'm guessing their future might not be much better.
As much as I enjoyed my time in Borders through the years, I probably spent so much more time in the rare and used shops just for the finds. In the last decade or so, Borders was where I did a fair amount of gift shopping (at least the portion that I didn't do online), but if I wanted something for my own collection, I walked by it more often than not.
I was downtown for a meeting today and walked into Borders on the way to it. Surreal sight, between the half-empty shelves and the liquidation signs.