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Posted on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 10:53 a.m.

Arborland Borders will close; downtown Ann Arbor & Lohr Road not on bankruptcy closing list

By Paula Gardner


The Arborland store opened at 10 a.m. with light weekday traffic. Here are discount signs displayed before the location's closing was announced as part of the bankruptcy filing.

Angela Smith | For

Borders Group Inc. will close the Arborland store, according to documents filed this morning related to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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

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."

Overall, four Michigan stores are slated to close. Besides Arborland, the locations are: Grosse Pointe, 17141 Kercheval; Dearborn, 5601 Mercury Dr.; Utica, 45290 Utica Park Blvd.

See the full closing list here.

The other key Borders facilities in Washtenaw County:

• The corporate headquarters at 100 Phoenix Dr.

• Downtown Ann Arbor at 612 E. Liberty.

• Waters Place, 3140 Lohr Road in Pittsfield Township.">here. reporter James Dickson contributed to this report.



Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

Too bad. I live on Huron Parkway near Washtenaw. Parking at Borders is better than Barnes & Noble.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

It's sad to see this happening to Borders. I remember the store when it was a lively destination bookstore downtown, with lots of customers, lively displays, great selections and great ambiance. It was sad to see it go downhill over the last few years. The Arborland store closing will likely have a negative impact on Arborland in general, reducing the reasons for shopping at the strip mall. Also, the poorly designed traffic patterns, congestion and narrow parking spots near Borders all need to be redesigned, and that's not likely to happen any time soon with the bookstore's closing.

Tom Hollyer

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Peggy White and TruBlue90... do you realize there is a parking structure right around the corner from the downtown store? In 20 years of living here, I have never been unable to park there, except when there was some work being done on it a few years ago, or during Art Fair week. Sorry for the veer off-topic, but the complaints about the hassle of parking in Ann Arbor get tiresome. It's actually quite easy, particularly in comparison to most anyplace else. Unless, of course, you prefer vast expanses of asphalt.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

A bit of a self serving question but does anyone know if a $25 gift card from Christmas is still good or is it a debt headed to court?

John B.

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

For now, (they say) it's still good.... If they go Chapter 7, fuhgeddaboutit.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

Here is a sortable list, courtesy of the WSJ. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The initial sort is by store #, but you can sort by square footage, state, etc.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

I agree. I'll miss the Arborland store. I live in Ypsi Township, never go out to Lohr Rd., and very rarely go to downtown Ann Arbor. I'd visit downtown Ann Arbor a lot more often if the parking wasn't such a hassle!

John B.

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

Actually, it's very easy to park in the structure just West of the Borders store, and that's a good location to park at in order to walk to lots of (other) downtown places too....


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

I feel so sorry for the employees! I wish the Arborland store wouldn't close, though. It is much more convenient and has never &quot;felt like an island to itself&quot;. I stop there at least once a week. I live on the eastern side of the country and certainly won't be driving to the Lohr Road store. Downtown completely depends on parking.

Christopher LeClair

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

I am saddened to hear of all the individuals who will lose their jobs, it is never easy. However, three grossly overpriced bookstores within about a 2.5 mile radius is a bit excessive.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

With two major stores closed, this won't help Arborland, already a unattractive shopping area in an area where traffic is congested. I expect other stores at Arborland will see a negative impact.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

So sad. I've always preferred the Arborland Borders over Barnes and Noble. Better parking, better service.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

I wish the best for all those losing their jobs.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

I believe John B's estimate is right. We're watching the filings for details on that and hope some emerge soon. We're not getting detail from corporate yet.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Thank you, Paula.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

So sad. Do we know how many employees are out of jobs from the Arborland closing? I'm so sad for them. Heartbreaking. And what does this do to Arborland? Hang on Hillers.

John B.

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Probably about 25-30 or so, I would guesstimate. There are I think 108 at all three stores combined....

Edward Vielmetti

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

There's a PDF of the store closing list here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Haran Rashes

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

The New York Times has posted a list of stores Borders will be closing through bankruptcy protection at: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Do you have the list or a hyperlink to the list of the remaining stores that will be closed?