You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

Disappearing act: Borders brothers nowhere to be found

By Nathan Bomey

The Borders of today is a far cry from the 800-square-foot book shop founded on South State Street in Ann Arbor in 1971 by brothers Tom and Louis Borders.

Borders liquidating

The average store is 30 times larger, for one thing. And the chain, which announced its plans to liquidate on Monday, now has 400 stores, down from more than 600 when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February.

But the Borders brothers are nowhere to be found. In fact, it appears that they haven't said much of anything about Borders over the last decade.

A web search today turned up no comments by the Borders brothers about the company's liquidation, despite a swarm of media coverage about the announcement.

The Borders brothers, natives of Louisville, Ky., sold the chain to retailer Kmart Corp. in 1992, when they had only 21 stores. They left the company, then Kmart merged it with Waldenbooks and spun it out into a public company in 1995.

The Borders brothers have long since moved on. Louis — who famously founded the grocery delivery website only to see it implode in 2001 during the dot-com bubble bust — is still an entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley. Efforts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

Tom Borders is now involved in a financial business in Austin, Texas. Tom Borders also helps to run a family grant-making nonprofit called the Tapestry Foundation, which distributed $202,600 in grants to community groups in Texas in 2009, according to tax records.

In February, he declined interviews about Borders. Today, someone who answered the phone at his financial firm said he was not in the office and there was no way to contact him to speak about the liquidation.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Tom Teague

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

Since I was one of the folks who criticized Nathan Bomey about the Granholm Tweet story, and even though there are many eloquent allies of that struggle here among the commenters, I am going to stick my neck out and say I think THIS is a legitimate story; was right to pursue it and just as right to let us know that they couldn't get comment. If he had reached one of the brothers it would have been -- in broadcast vernacular -- a "good get." And it's legitimate for to let us know that it tried to reach them. Otherwise, many readers who would love to hear the brothers' views would be left wondering whether even tried. I'm sure Nathan cursed his luck in drawing this assignment and having to write this with a "didn't reach 'em" hook. I hope he tracks down a willing, voluble, and accessible interview subject sometime soon.

Tom Teague

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Well at least we three made common cause on the Tweet story. I'm glad that there's room for respectful disagreements among friends and allies. :-)

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Tom, I appreciate your point but still contend the inability to get a comment is not a story in and of itself. The inability to get a comment should be nothing more than a sidebar to another story. " The Border brothers declined to comment"

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

An interview with them would be a good story. One I hope to read at some point in the near future. This is just silly.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

I, for one, would love to hear their perspective. My speculation is that they are feeling a combination of deep sorrow for their legacy and great fortune for selling high. But they are most definitely on the next chapter in this book, which happens to be an ebook.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

I thought the "new" was supposed to put a damper on this type of silly editorializing in the "news" department. They sold to K-Mart, K-Mart changed the business model. Why would they still be around?

Kai Petainen

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

ah.... 19 years ago... that's not part of the current story. they sold it and moved on. but if you got an opinion from them, then it would be interesting. if you want to have some fun with insiders and management, concentrate more on the ones that came later. look at this chart.... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and note the insider selling (red arrows) in 2004 to 2006 -- before the crash starts. ask the insiders... why did they sell before and after the paperchase deal (the green M in 2004)? why did they sell before EPS numbers headed downwards? how much did they make in selling shares, before the stock plunged and investors lost their money? the rest of that article is here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and if you want to have more fun with insider selling. take a look at barnes and noble... yes, they had some selling, but they also had a bunch of insider buying.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

It would be an interesting twist to the story to know if the Borders brothers retained a significant number of shares in the company and if they hung on to those shares as the company declined in recent years.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 3:39 a.m.

But that would involve effort, actually pursuing some SEC reports and looking into the sale and subsequent merger that took place. If it ain't coming in a status update, it ain't happening.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

it's a perfectly legitimate story -- it's a business that bears their name and was a huge employer and community asset in Ann Arbor for decades -- it's only natural to think they might have followed the company's progress or lack thereof through the years and have some insight -- but bash away if you like

John B.

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 10:31 p.m.

Little tree: What Craig said (jeez, I am agreeing with you again, Craig - maybe there should be a beer summit?).

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

If they had something to say it would be a legitimate story. Its NOT a story that after 19 plus years as former owners they have nothing to say.

John B.

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

This just in: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead! (NB, you just don't get it, still...).


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Thanks! You made me laugh out loud.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7 p.m.

there is a bit of deja vu to this Nathan Bomey &quot;story&quot; . I wonder who's not going to say what tomorrow?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

If Michigan loses to Notre Dame in a couple of months, I'm sure Nathan will post that Bo Schembechler's comments could not be found after an exhaustive Google search.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Why not call the Furry Freak Brothers for a comment. They haven't been seen in over 20 years either!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

Love the misleading headline &quot;Disappearing act - Borders brothers nowhere to be found&quot; They sold the store nearly TWENTY YEARS ago -- and they wont comment and .com refers to this as a disappering act? breaking news: Jimmy Hoffa is still missing

Michigan Man

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

The brothers Borders ( I worked for them briefly in winter of 1973 at their bookstore in the old Wahrs bldg) have already laughed all the way to the bank! They made their money in Ann Arbor and have simply moved on - I presume they are now solid Republicans who accumulated great wealth the old fashion way = good business acumen.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

Maybe Jennifer Granholm has something to say.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

Oh yeah. Sorry, given the blame other posters have tried to place on both Obama and Snyder every time we see a story relating to local business, I took it as yet another misguided political comment rather than a specific jab at Bomey.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Seldon, I don't think alan was trying to turn this political at all. Did you follow the commentary following Nathan Bomey's &quot;infamous&quot; column on Ms. Granholm's tweets and non-tweets?


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Maybe people who are trying to make this into a political issue don't have anything of value to say.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

they made their bucks.what do they casre what happens?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

&quot;But the Borders brothers are nowhere to be found. In fact, it appears that they haven't said much of anything about Borders over the last decade. ' why should they have anything to say? They sold the business some 19 years ago. &quot;The Borders brothers have long since moved on. ' bingo end of this story....errrr......non-story

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

call me crazy but what people say is news...what they don't say or don't tweet really isn't.