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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.

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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