Borders Be Gone

as one story ends, perhaps a new chapter can begin ... turn the page

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Garrett Brunker

This is going to sound really bad, but I have been so excited for this moment for a really long time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not excited that Borders closed AT ALL. Borders was amazing. Its smell was magnificent, the leather chairs were exquisite, and the shelves upon shelves of books were breathtaking. I could never have come close in the entirety of my lifetime to reading everything in Borders that I would have liked to, and I adored that feeling. Borders was a bottomless well of knowledge and entertainment, which was extremely comforting. A few years ago I even wrote a piece in this very space about finding new and wonderful material to read, and one of my pieces of advice was basically to go hang out at Borders.

My excitement over this loss is anthropological. I am finally old enough to participate in all of those conversations aging locals so enjoy starting: remember when so-and-so business was around? Remember that AMAZING taco place that used to be on Hastings or Water Street or wherever? Remember when we used to take the Model T to Woolworth’s? Remember that magical little shop that used to re-shoe the horses while we got our handlebar mustaches waxed? Well, I have now witnessed the entire life span of a major local business, and I can now play along. Remember when we had that huge bookstore? What was its name?

While some might not mourn the loss of Borders, as it was a corporate chain store, many disagree. No doubt, Borders was the kind of outfit that hardcore local-centrics love to hate – the home office was very far away, it looked about the same as nearly every other Borders out there, and just about the time it opened in Eau Claire, the movie You’ve Got Mail came along and turned large bookstore chains into monsters. Borders essentially killed loveable, quirky Meg Ryan (she dies in that movie, right?), and a lot of people could never forgive them. 

But unlike some of the other big chain stores around town, Borders didn’t seem like they were only there to funnel money out of Eau Claire into some fatcat investors’ pockets. No one ever rushed you out of Borders – you could sit, enjoy free wi-fi, listen to entire CDs, or read entire books, and they were OK with that. They invited local authors to do readings, and they sold local merchandise. They were the kinder, gentler sort of mega-corporation that we could live with.

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