Friday, July 22, 2011

Borders Going Out of Business: Two Thumbs Up for Locally Owned

Let me begin with a caveat to place this blog within a convoluted context. I hate national chains. I can’t stand Wally World (that’s Wal-Mart for those lacking street credibility) and the supermarkets that pump processed food and chemically laced meat into our bodies. I deplore our nation’s fascination with massive duplication seen at malls from coast to coast.

I love all things local. Locally grown produce and restaurants that do their best to bring us products that came on a truck packed just a few miles down the road. I love food created by chefs who live in Durham. I love clothing and jewelry stores like the ones owned by my friends at Vouge and Vert and Hamilton Hill both at the Brightleaf Square. I love the taste of coffee coming from a locally grown shop versus that Starbuck junk.

When it comes to purchasing books, I’d rather take a scroll down 9th Street and give my money to the folks who own the Regulator. Why, because they have supported me. They vend my books and gave me a place to hold a book signing. John Valentine wrote a review of my first book in the Independent Weekly. I support the Regulator because of their love for local authors, and because they create a place for us to be celebrated.

So, my hatred for all things mega-national may creep into this blog. I’m not sad that Borders is going out of business. I do regret that it comes as a consequence of reduced sales in the book business. People aren’t buying books. Some are opting to get their read on by downloading it on their Kindle or Nook. The e-book craze is changing how people like me promote and distribute their work. I get that. What troubles me even more than the implications related to changes in technology is how much people have stopped reading altogether. That frustrates the mess out of me.

As an author, I need for people to buy my work to survive. One would think that Borders and Barnes & Noble would be my best friend. It takes the drama out of distribution when one can stir a person to that one stop shop for feeding the need to learn. As a business maneuver, the national chain makes sense. As one dedicated to the promotion of local voice and economic development, it is the incarnation of evil.

That’s right, I said it! All of that massive national chain development is the DEVIL. Hiss at me if you want. Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Borders and the rest are, in part, responsible for the death of locally owned and operated business owners. Those who support local are dealt a difficult decision-to spend or not to spend. Should they take that hard earned cash and waste the little they have by supporting the locally owned shop, or take what is left to Wally World where the dollar brings home more shopping bags?

The end of Borders gives me reason to celebrate. Another one bites the dust! Sing with me…another one…yes another one bites the dust. I know it’s heartless. Many have lost jobs across the country. I’m sad for all the employees forced to stand in those long lines at the Employment Security Commission. I pray that each of them will find work soon along with the countless others looking and waiting to end their term of unemployment.

Yes it all hurts, but this is a celebration of SUSTAIN-A-BULL. That’s the name given to the marketing plan to get Durham residents interested in supporting their homegrown businesses. Borders is dead, but the Regulator is still open for business. Refrain from getting one of my books on I know it may be cheaper to purchase it on E-bay, but stop before you press the button. Pause and consider what it means to be connected to a community.

If you haven’t read a book lately, go get one today. I would recommend one of mine. I could use the support, but, if not me, consider Zelda Lockhart. By all means, buy a book.

Buy it at the Regulator or another locally owned shop. Tell John Valentine and Tom Campbell I sent you. The good news is they don’t have to fax or email your comments to the home office.


  1. While love the regulator and small businesses in general, the tragedy Is the loss if 10,700 jobs across he US in the middle of a recession. I used to have a part-time job at Birders and they were A great flexible employer in a way small book stores can't be.

    The national management of the chain was poor, but the individual stores were staffed by people who loved books, and the store I worked at reached out to local authors in Boston all the time.

    That said, the future of book stores is the local indies because B&N can't compete with Amazon.

  2. I agree in some respects, but in my neighborhood up in Greensboro, the Borders was the only bookstore some of the youth (most who are immigrants, black americans or poor) saw. Now that shopping center where Borders sat sits completely empty and ripe to be a haven of trouble.

    I would personally like to see the area torn back down and revered back to a garden or some sort of natural area. Prior to this strip's building in 1995, it housed a mobile home sales lot. The lot was tree covered and the home office of this local firm was also on the property. The home office is now a magnet school, but the remainder of the property is now empty over-sized strip mall, McDonalds(my least favorite chain) and a Total Wine store.

    I could crank up more on the problems of suburban and chain-caused blight on High Point Rd., but I'll stop.

  3. I can agree with a lot of what Carl is saying since it is the small chains and small radio stations, on a parallel front, that have kept so much indy music alive....Yes I too like the convenience of chain stores, but there is something very personal about the small indy stores no matter that their field and I can tell you I lamented a lot more over the loss of the Know Bookstore than I have over the loss of Borders....