Saratoga County

Borders bankruptcy to close Saratoga Springs store

Local residents were surprised and disappointed Wednesday to learn that Borders will be closing its

Local residents were surprised and disappointed Wednesday to learn that Borders will be closing its 25,000-square-foot, two-story bookstore on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs by the end of April.

“It’s just a great place to relax,” said Greg Dockrell of Saratoga Springs as he thumbed through a magazine in the store at the corner of Broadway and Division Street.

Dockrell joined others in saying he hoped the company changes its mind and keeps open what appears to be a thriving business in the center of downtown.

In closing the store that opened in 2000, Borders described it and the eight other bookstores it plans to close in New York as “underperforming stores.”

The company filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws on Wednesday and announced that 200 of its 642 stores would be closed over the next two months. Borders said it is losing $2 million a day at the stores it plans to close, according to an Associated Press story. All of the underperforming stores are the company’s larger “superstores.”

Borders bookstores in Clifton Park and at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland are not on the closure list.

Jeremy Fielding, a Borders spokesman, said Wednesday that the Saratoga Springs store will close by the end of April. He said no specific date has yet been set for closing the store that currently employs 37 people.

Asked if Borders might change its mind about closing the seemingly busy Saratoga Springs store, Fielding said, “We expect it would be closed.”

“I would be very disappointed if it did close,” said local realtor and developer Thomas Roohan. He described the store as “a real positive piece of Broadway.”

“It’s a shame; it’s a tragedy,” said Tom Frost, the local architect who designed the Borders building for owner Myron M. Hunt Inc. of Buffalo.

Frost said the building replaced what many city residents called the Red Barn, named for a long-gone fast-food eatery in the building. A pizza restaurant was the last business in the Red Barn building before it was demolished to make space for Borders.

Frost said when the building was planned, the Hunt company wanted it designed so that if Borders eventually moved out of the second floor, it could be separated from the first floor. An additional set of stairs was included in the building that allows the second floor to be accessed from outside so that the building can have a retail store on the first floor and offices on the second floor.

A permit was issued for the building in September 1999, and the Borders opened in June 2000.

John DeMarco, owner of the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore at 7 Phila St., just a block from Borders, said he was surprised that the Saratoga Springs store is being closed because it seemed to be one of the chain’s better-performing stores.

DeMarco and other independent bookstore owners were concerned when the large chain bookstore opened on Broadway a decade ago.

But DeMarco specializes in antiquarian and out-of-print books, and his business has remained steady despite the superstore just a block away.

DeMarco said he is sorry to see the bookstore close and people working there lose their jobs.

“It’s a changing marketplace for booksellers,” DeMarco said. He said many people now buy their books online.

“I don’t know who will go in there,” DeMarco said about the prime Borders location. “It’s a great location and was kind of built for them.”

Brook Horn of DJM Realty, the company retained by Borders to lease the closing bookstores, said there is a lot of interest in the Borders locations in New York, including the Saratoga Springs location. She said the local Borders is 25,000 square feet on the two floors with a lease that expires in 2020. The company is asking $16.17 per square foot to lease the property.

Mayor Scott Johnson on Wednesday called the Borders site a “prime location in the very center of our downtown.”

Johnson said the property has great real estate value. He said the Borders building was a vast improvement over the previous Red Barn building.

Categories: Business

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