Monday, July 25, 2011

Lament to Borders

I moved to Albany in August 2006. This will be the 5th year I have lived here on the 23rd. I took my last few remaining bucks and headed for Crossgates Mall to find a job one of the first days I was here. I wandered up and down and I saw that there was a darkened bookstore waiting to open -- I vaguely wondered if it was the same store I had applied for a few months back but ultimately didn't get hired for.

A week later, it opened. I started working at the store across the hall from it, New York & Company. As a result, I spent a lot of time inside. I tried many things to save myself money, but I could never resist the bargain books. Or the ridiculous amounts of coupons I would get.

I know I was known on sight by the booksellers, even if they didn't know my name. One of the shift supervisors always knew I worked in the mall, even when I moved over to Colonie Center. It was nice -- I always was able to go in, browse, and just be left alone with the books.

When Borders instituted their paid rewards program, I was the first to jump on it. I don't regret that decision in the least. I always felt far more comfortable in Borders than in any other bookstore, and the Crossgates Mall bookstore more than any other one -- even the one back home. I never felt the same spirit of camaraderie that I did there with Barnes and Noble, Chapters, you name it.

Borders is closing its doors now, and it is so weird, because like I said, it came here at the same time I did. We ventured into Albany at the same time. That's why losing my bookstore, even if it is a chain, hurts. And I have worked liquidation sales before (I worked for Ames at the time they closed) so I know what the booksellers are going through.

I went there today, and I didn't expect the ridiculous amounts of people wandering through. I didn't feel comfortable, and while I left with a bag full of books as per usual, I didn't find it as relaxing as I usually do. I don't know really what I expected -- the scavengers come out to play and panic when a liquidation sale is announced. There are plenty of books, and at 10% off, it's not the greatest deal. I'm very grateful to Borders for letting me still use my member discount until Aug 5, which is why I did buy a couple more books than I usually do.

When Borders finally closes in September, I will try to dip my toes into the bookstore waters again. But I don't think I'll have that odd sense of kinship with it. It's like a door closing on my story of Albany.

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