Although Books-A-Million garnered attention for its acquisition of 14 Borders locations last week, many former Borders stores are about to have other new tenants. Those meeting with landlords and kicking the Borders tires tend to be mall retailers like DSW, REI, and Sports Authority. T.J. Maxx will move into the space in San Rafael, Calif.; a health food store will open in New Orleans and Forever 21 in Lynnwood, Wash. But perhaps most emblematic of the changed status not just of Borders but of bookstore superstores is the conversion of a San Francisco Borders into Lucky Strike Lanes, an upscale bowling alley/lounge.
Still, some small-format Borders stores in airports will continue to carry books. Paradies took a one-year lease at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and Hudson Group opened two Hudson Booksellers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport last month. In July, the University of Chicago purchased a former Borders building, which had been vacant since March, as part of its Hyde Park redevelopment project. The university is looking for retail, home goods, entertainment, or restaurant tenants. And two universities—Fairfield in Fairfield, Conn., and Vanderbilt in Nashville—are opening college bookstores in malls once dominated by Borders.
“The university feels a responsibility to contribute to the community, to fill the void,” said Frank Gladu, assistant vice chancellor for business services at Vanderbilt. In addition to relocating the university’s bookstore from a centrally located campus building to the 27,000-sq.-ft. commercial space near the school’s athletic facilities the first week in November, Vanderbilt will transfer the management of the store from Follett to Barnes & Noble College. The new store will combine a campus store with a general bookstore/community center and cafe. It will carry 60,000 titles, have a full slate of book signings, and will stock digital products like e-book materials and the Nook. “At least for the foreseeable future, we need to have both e-books and print books,” said Gladu.
Fairfield plans to turn its current campus store into a convenience store/spirit store in mid-October after it moves the book operation to the 23,000-sq.-ft. downtown bookstore to be run by Follett. “It’s one of those gambles,” said James Fitzpatrick, assistant v-p for administration and student affairs. “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a little anxiety about it. We had been looking for an opportunity to take the university into town for years. It happened very quickly.”
Inspired by Notre Dame’s Hammes Bookstore & Romy’s Cafe, which opened in a commercial space two years ago, Fitzpatrick believes that a college store/general bookstore with a strong children’s section can work in an off-campus setting. The university will run shuttle buses every half hour to the new store and will stock athletic wear and emblematic items not just for Fairfield but for regional high schools nearby. The Fairfield bookstore, which will be open late, will have a 50-seat cafe serviced by a national coffee-shop brand. It will also carry e-books, a market Fitzpatrick said the store will aggressively pursue.
Books-A-Million’s 24 Borders Locations in 17 States
*South Portland, Maine
*Traverse City, Mich.
*West Lebanon, N.H.
*Mays Landing, N.J.
St. Clairsville, Ohio
*Rapid City, S.D.
*Eau Claire, Wis.
*Leases added at court hearing August 29