Arborland Borders will close; downtown Ann Arbor & Lohr Road not on bankruptcy closing list
Angela Smith | For AnnArbor.com
The store - 22,941-square-feet at one of the highest-traffic corridors in Ann Arbor - was the only location in the Ann Arbor, Mich.- area on the initial 200-store closing list. Another 75 to 136 could be added to the list, according to the documents.
The store is an anchor in Arborland Shopping Center, and just a few storefronts south of a shuttered Circuit City store. That store remains vacant after the chain's liquidation.
Liquidation sales could start as soon as Saturday, according to court filings.
The store's age and location may have played into the decision to close it, real estate experts said this morning.
"You have to look at where the stores are placed and how competitive they are - and how close they are to Barnes & Noble," said Tom Goldberg, owner of the Waters Place mall on Lohr Road in Pittsfield Township, home to another local Borders store.
Borders opened in Arborland when the mall was reconfigured into an open-air regional power center in the late 1990s. A few years later, Barnes & Noble opened in Huron Village, about a half-mile west at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway.
That store, Goldberg said, is "relatively new and next to a vibrant Whole Foods. Not that there's anything wrong with Arborland, it's just an older store, next to a new, competitive store."
David Kwan, an Ann Arbor developer, agreed.
"Borders at that location was a bit of an island unto itself," Kwan said. He noted that its visibility comes from the location near the western exit to the mall, and not from signs or visibility from the US-23/Washtenaw area.
He added: "I don't think Ann Arbor ever needed 3 Borders stores."
A few shoppers gathered as the Arborland store opened at 10 a.m. before the announcement of that store's closing. They expressed concern for the chain as the news of its bankruptcy filing circulated.
Bill Ripley, shopping with his wife and granddaughter, spoke of the Borders legacy in Ann Arbor, where the chain was founded.
Martin Bond, waiting nearby for service on his car, stopped to browse.
"I'm probably here 3-4 times a month," he said.
Inside the store, sale signs and discount offers were prominent in the front of the store, said Angela Smith, shopping blogger for AnnArbor.com
There were $1 book offers, 75-percent off deals for many non-book products - including Valentine's Day items - and many shelves were in disarray, Smith said.
However, the core book stock seemed intact, she said.
"It didn't seem like the shelves were bare," Smith said.
The cafe also was open, and "employees were quiet but still helpful," Smith added. "It was just subdued."
A few minutes later, as news emerged that Arborland was slated to close, shoppers near the store expressed surprise and regret.
“Oh I’m very disappointed, very disappointed,” said Linda Plona of Ann Arbor when she heard that the Arborland Borders would be closing.
“That’s a real shame that this one would be the one closing,” Plona said, adding that she chose the store for its location and also for the convenience. “This is a great shopping area. I went to Hillers, I came over here to buy a book, and now I’m going to get a cup of coffee. It’s perfect."
Dean Juipe of Ann Arbor expressed surprise that the downtown Ann Arbor store wasn't closed instead.
“I would’ve thought they’d close the store downtown because of the expense of keeping it open," he said. "That’s a better store, but probably a lot more expensive."
He also said he's seen Borders lag when it comes to competition.
“I don’t think Borders does everything they can do to stay ahead of things. Personally, I’ve seen their inventory drop; they have far less hard-to-find items than they used to. They’re very much mainstream. Lots of stuff there that people can get online and don’t need to get in print."
Bonnie Larson of Belleville said she's upset about the Arborland store closing.
“I don’t understand because everytime I come down here it’s always busy," she said. "I’m close to the one in Canton but I come here. After this, then I hit Hillers, then Bed, Bath & Beyond it’s convenient."
See the full closing list here.
The other key Borders facilities in Washtenaw County:
â€¢ The corporate headquarters at 100 Phoenix Dr.
â€¢ Downtown Ann Arbor at 612 E. Liberty.
â€¢ Waters Place, 3140 Lohr Road in Pittsfield Township.">here.
AnnArbor.com reporter James Dickson contributed to this report.