It could have come out of a storybook: two giants battling across a busy street. And the story is entering its final chapter this summer, with the Borders Group retreating from the Wolf Road corridor, leaving Barnes & Noble to dominate the area it first settled in 1993.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Borders will close its Wolf Road bookstore, a 31,000-square-foot, two-story building near Colonie Center, on Sept. 6.
The closing will come 10 months after B&N relocated across the street to a newly constructed 33,000-square-foot space at Colonie Center — putting it even closer to Borders.
Borders spokeswoman Kolleen O’Meara said the 15-year-old bookstore is closing because it is underperforming. She could not say whether competition from the closer and larger B&N affected sales, but she said its performance likely declined “over time.”
“Nothing happens over night,” O’Meara said.
The Borders opened on Wolf Road months after the B&N debuted on Colonie’s commercial strip. In 1993, Colonie became the fourth U.S. community to house neighboring B&N and Borders stores, joining suburbs of Philadelphia and Chicago.
The closing threatens to leave the western end of Wolf Road with two vacant big-box stores, including the 30,000-square-foot building B&N abandoned last November.
Borders plans to maintain its other Capital Region stores in Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park and Guilderland. Borders’ 36,700-square-foot location at Crossgates Mall, which opened two years ago, is its newest in the area.
Borders, the nation’s second-largest bookseller chain, teetered on the brink of bankruptcy earlier this year and considered putting itself up for sale. Industry leader B&N in New York was viewed as a likely buyer for the troubled chain, whose financial situation is improving.
The Michigan bookseller has 547 superstores worldwide operating as Borders and 476 mall-based stores that operate as Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet. It has a Borders Express at the Rotterdam Square mall and a Waldenbooks at Wilton Mall.
Borders’ U.S. superstores ended the fiscal first quarter May 3 with a 4.1 percent decline in sales. That drop was only 1.7 percent when excluding the music category. The company posted a first quarter net loss of $31.7 million, compared to $35.9 million a year earlier.
Although the bookseller plans to close two other Borders in Illinois and California, it plans to open 14 stores this year. Since February, Borders has been opening new concept stores with digital and Internet options.