Closing of Borders Store Leaves Elk Grove Readers With Few Choices

The city will lose 32 jobs and a popular place for book lovers to meet and greet.

In the past few years, Elk Grove—once a small hamlet—has acquired many of the things that make a city a city: its own police department, and soon, its own elected mayor. But with the this summer, the city will no longer have its own mainstream bookstore.

Residents and city officials this week lamented the loss of the and the 32 jobs it provides.

“Borders feels like it is built for the community,” said Laryn Hoggard, 20, as she shopped at the store Tuesday. “This one is the best. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid.”

Borders Group spokesperson Mary Davis said the bankrupt chain will begin holding liquidation sales at all its nearly 400 stores soon, with all of them shutting their doors by the end of September. The actual closing date of the Elk Grove location will depend on how fast its inventory sells, she said.

Other shoppers said they weren’t looking forward to having to leave town for books.

Elk Grove’s sole other non-religious bookstore, Almost Perfect Used Books, is “kind of hit or miss,” said resident Tish Cabrey. The store specializes in used novels, and also carries some new books.

Readers can also make use of Elk Grove’s two public libraries— and —which together circulate about 60,000 items per month.

However, Brenda Haggard, spokesperson for Sacramento Public Libraries, said libraries and bookstores tend to attract different people.

“People who borrow books from the library will sometimes buy books but it’s hard to tell whether the fact that there’s not a retail outlet there in town will have an impact on our circulation numbers,” Haggard said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Desiree Chavez, an employee at the Elk Grove Borders, said that while she had planned to leave her job soon to focus on her studies at Cosumnes River College, the store has many long-term employees who are upset about the closing.

“They’re actually really depressed,” she said. “Some of them have been here for like 15 years.”

Elk Grove's Borders has long served as a gathering place for everyone from college students to retirees. As workers began preparing the store for closing Wednesday, both they and Patch readers wondered whether Borders’s former competitor Barnes and Noble might want to move in.

An executive with Voit Real Estate Services told The Sacramento Bee this week that his company was already receiving inquiries about the Elk Grove space.

City spokesperson Christine Brainerd said in an email that the city would do its best to help fill the retail space and “make opening a business in that location a quick and seamless process.”

Brainerd called the departure of Borders a loss for the community and the City of Elk Grove, but added, “We do not foresee any [economic] ripple effects in the short term.  The city is confident the space will be filled.”

Brainerd declined to say how much Borders generated for the city in tax revenue, but said it was not among the city’s top 50 revenue generators in its most recent sales tax report.

M.Legison July 21, 2011 at 10:56 PM
If "city officials and local residents are lamenting the loss of 32 jobs," where is the concern for attempting to turn away Walmart that would probably employ over 200 people at the same or better wages and more hours?
Mike Kurtz July 22, 2011 at 01:05 AM
What a bummer. Borders was a great hangout and Walmart just sucks.
Mark Paxson July 22, 2011 at 01:53 AM
M. Legison ... maybe because Walmart sucks the life out of small businesses wherever it goes. Do you have any actual facts to support your claim that Walmart pays a better wage and provides better hours than Borders?
M.Legison July 22, 2011 at 06:10 AM
$12.35 average hourly for non-management 1-3 years employment, 32 hours average per week. Figures are for the NorCal region. I doubt that Borders is more than average $10 per hour/20 hours per week, but I don't have that data thus the use of "probably." I am sorry to hear all the small businesses are gone from and around the Walmart center. I thought they were doing pretty well. What businesses have they put down in Elk Grove?
Anne Gonzales July 22, 2011 at 05:31 PM
I'm intrigued by this discussion, because I've been trained to feel guilty about shopping at Wal-Mart, yet whenever I go there, I notice they employ a good number of people, many of them older. I'm not crazy about some of the chain's labor practices or its impact on worldwide resources, but that could be said for any large corporation. In times of recession, Wal-Mart offers jobs and discount prices to struggling families. I don't believe that Wal-Mart had anything to do with Borders' demise, since Borders' shoppers would not have found the same experience in the book aisle at Wal-Mart.
M.Legison July 22, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Fair and appropriate comment, Anne. Most of the anti-Walmart "data" you read is union propaganda, as Walmart is a major threat to the unions. Although some of what you read or see has some factual basis, most does not. The company definitely has some negatives but also provides a good option for the older, lower income, and value shoppers. If you actually talk to a dozen Walmart workers, you'll find most of them are pretty happy with their deal.
Mark Paxson July 23, 2011 at 08:34 PM
M. Legison. By dismissing "anti-Walmart 'data'" as "union propaganda," you've essentially won the argument. Congratulations. Anything I put here, you'll just dismiss. For instance, there's a UC Berkeley study, and many other studies, by the way, that show that Wal-mart's wages are lower than their retail competitors. But, we all know that UC Berkeley is just a commie pinko institution that can't be trusted. Meanwhile, the information you posted is relatively meaningless. Averages don't tell you anything. For instance, if four out of five employees are making $8.00 and the fifth is making $25, you have an average that looks pretty good even though what you have is four out of five employees making an unlivable wage. Plus, there are other things that go into compensation packages, such as health care. Surely, you've heard the stories about Wal-Mart and its failure to provide health care to many of its employees? Many Wal-Mart employees depend on government provided health care (medicaid, medical) since their employer doesn't provide it ... that costs all of us. Meanwhile, there's a study that shows if Wal-Mart were to provide health care to its employees, it would only result in the average shopper's bill rising around 45 cents. As for Wal-Mart hurting small businesses, there's anecdotal evidence and studies everywhere, but it's just so much union drivel, right?
Mark Paxson July 23, 2011 at 08:38 PM
I have to disagree regarding whether Wal-Mart contributed to Borders demise. There are a lot of elements to it, but if people can go to Wal-Mart and Costco and go on-line and buy books for $5 less than they can at Borders, that damages Borders business. That being said, if books can be sold for a profit for $5 less than Borders can sell them, then maybe the decline of bookstores was inevitable. I know I've bought plenty of books at those cheaper places. But, the ability to undercut the prices of competitors, which is Wal-Mart's forte because of its sheer size and ability to force suppliers to lower their prices, is one of the reasons why places like Borders are being driven out of business.
M.Legison July 23, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Mark, thanks for the comments. I'm aware of the Cal studies to which you refer. Now, who funded them, Mark? I'm going to give you a couple of links to get you started. On each one, scroll down to the end. What do you see? Yep--the union bug. Bought and paid for--check the funding for the labor center at Cal. You are right. I will win the argument every time with Walmart and the unions because I have one foot on each side;-) Here you go: laborcenter.berkeley.edu/retail/walmart.pdf-->laborcenter.berkeley.edu/retail/bigbox_livingwage_policies11.pdf
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 01:01 AM
You actually don't win an argument when you essentially eliminate the possibility of credibility from those who you oppose. I was being sarcastic. What you really do is prevent the possibility of having a debate on the subject. No matter what I say, you'll just conclude it's the rantings of a knee-jerk, pro-union liberal. In your first post here, you discounted any anti-Walmart argument as basically being driven by the unions. Oddly enough, neither of the studies you just posted the links for are the study I mentioned. Also, I hate to tell you that the union bug that I know of typically means that the document was printed by union printer and nothing else. As for the funding of the entity, here are the list of entities that the Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment shows as its funding sources:Ford Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Macarthur Foundation, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, California Endowment, Rockefeller Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Open Society Institute, California Wellness Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Government Agencies: National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of State, California Department of Industrial Relations. The website also indicates that the Institute is "primarily funded by the University of California."
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 01:09 AM
The Labor Center is identified as a public outreach and education effort of that Institute. Here's another fascinating little tidbit. In 2008, Schwarzenegger vetoed $5.4 million in state funding for programs at the University of California that promote research and education on labor and employment issues. Kind of hard to say that's union funding for the Labor Center or the Institute. So, I have a proposition for you. Instead of debating about who the source of information is, let's actually debate the merits of the issue. You'll notice I didn't ask you for the source of your information regarding the average wage for a NoCal WalMart employee. But, what the heck. What was your source. Let me give you a clue, too, I can't stand unions, just like I can't stand any other single interest group -- kind of like WalMart, whose only motive is to maximize its profit without a care at all about what that might do to our society, our culture, and our environment. I feel the same way about unions. I don't like them. They view the world based on one single issue. I'm a firm believer in the need to address issues on a much larger scale than what's in it for me and my interest and I wish all of these single issue groups would grow up and recognize that, too. Let me know when you have information that the studies that show that WalMart creates harm in the world aren't true. As long as all you think you need to do is criticize the source, it's pointless to continue on.
M.Legison July 24, 2011 at 01:36 AM
Source: The horse's mouth. It is part of my business to know--see feet in two places comment. You won't find everything on the internet. You need not take it as fact. I have read much of the "research" on Walmart and nearly all of it is traceable back to three unions. The credits on "The High Cost of Low Price" are hilarious, yet some people actually take the entire film as fact. And, some surely are. I am highly familiar with some of Walmart's business practices. As previously stated, most of these studies are flawed. The comparison in nearly all of them is to unionized grocery stores---not to non union boxes such as Target, Borders, Home Depot, etc. I have none of those wage figures beyond anecdotal reports, Mark, but I'm familiar with the labor market and they are all similar except Walmart tends to give more hours. That is how they make it work. Whether Walmart has effected a global transformational shift in product delivery through productivity measures is not debatable, but whether there has been a net positive effect may be. I can appreciate both sides to the argument. We pay less for many household hard goods and consumables today partially due to the Walmart model. We've also lost employment, partially as a result of the model implementation. That's just scratching the surface of the question.
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 03:00 AM
"It is my business to know--see feet in two places comment." So, in other words, we should just trust you? Sorry, I don't do that and neither should anybody else. For all I know, you're an 82-year-old great-grandmother who has never worked a day in her life and bases everything she believes on Fox News. Again, the fact that research may be traceable to unions, something you have not substantiated, doesn't result in the research being unreliable or invalid. Your unwillingness to actually debate the issues and facts, instead focusing solely on "it all comes from unions and therefore should be trusted" says a whole bunch. In addition, the studies you posted contradict your own claims about their unreliability ... one of them was based not on specific retailiers (i.e., only those that are unionized), but on large retailers, defined as those with more than 1,000 employees. You make some pretty conclusory statements in an effort to denigrate the source of studies you don't like. Most of them are pretty easily refutable. We can go into the harder issues, or we can just go back and forth on who says what and who pays for it. I think the latter is a pointless exercise. It's up to you where to go from here. I'm still curious where you get the information about WalMart's average non-management salary for Northern California. Something tells me that's a question that won't be answered.
M.Legison July 24, 2011 at 04:09 AM
You forgot to mention the Koch Brothers. Stay classy, Mark.
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 04:18 AM
You comment suggests you think I haven't been "classy." I'll leave others to decide who has demonstrated the most class in this discussion.
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 04:40 AM
What's particularly ironic about this whole discussion is how it began and ended on your part. Let's recap. "If 'city officials and local residents are lamenting the loss of 32 jobs,' where is the concern for attempting to turn away Walmart that would probably employ over 200 people at the same or better wages and more hours?" Your final comment: "Whether Walmart has effected a global transformational shift in product delivery through productivity measures is not debatable, but whether there has been a net positive effect may be. I can appreciate both sides to the argument. We pay less for many household hard goods and consumables today partially due to the Walmart model. We've also lost employment, partially as a result of the model implementation. That's just scratching the surface of the question." So, in other words ... well, what exactly? Seems to me you answered your own comment in a roundabout way. Elk Grove leaders and its citizens should be concerned about yet another WalMart for exactly the reasons you cite ...lost employment and the debatable question of whether a WalMart produces a net positive effect ... and shouldn't just approve it because WalMart itself may bring 200 jobs of questionable quality. (yes, those last three words are mine, not yours)
Tori Virga July 24, 2011 at 07:11 AM
Closing the only decent bookstore in elk grove? You have to be kidding me. Another reason to want to leave this area, like I needed more. What's going in another fried food restaurant? That will be great for kids.
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Tori ... I wouldn't blame Elk Grove on the closure of Borders. There are almost no book stores left anywhere. I don't question your desire to leave Elk Grove, but most of its problems are duplicated in plenty of other places.
Mike Kurtz July 24, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Mark: You have made many good thoughtful and provocative points. It is sad to see Borders go and I am sure that my typical behavior of buying through Amazon is a large part of the problem. They admittedly have the products, service delivery, pricing etc. But utilizing them is a factor for stores like borders. I do feel that they do have now an unfair advantage in they they do not pay sales tax in California. That was a good idea in the very early days of the internet but is no longer necessary. Yes that means that I would pay sales tax on my Amazon purchases. But I should.
Mark Paxson July 24, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Mike ... the way I look at it, we're all too blame for the closure of Borders (well, except for those people who continued paying full price for books there). Places like Amazon, and WalMart and Costco have made it too easy to buy books at a lower cost. And, on some level, good for them. That's what competition is about and if somebody can come up with a way to sell a book for less and still make money, that's their right. But, if you look at it from a societal or cultural level, we're losing the ability to go into a book store or music store and be enveloped in what books and music represent. We're losing some of the uniqueness that makes up a culture. Everything's in a big box store or on-line. Blech. As for on-line sales taxes... It is definitely time for on-line retailers to start collecting it. They've had an unfair competitive advantage for years and it's time to level the playing field.


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