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Borders Bookstore in Mentor to Close

The nation's second-largest bookseller files for bankruptcy protection

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Mentor Economic and Community Development Director Ron Traub  is disappointed about the closing of the Borders Bookstore at Creekside Commons Shopping Plaza, but hopes that the community can be moved to save the store.

"A closure such as this is never good news, even if it is happening across the country," said Traub. "But I can tell you we are not going to take it sitting down. I hope we can mobilize the community to at least raise our hand  and say we think you (Borders corporate) made a mistake. We are not seventh in the state in retail sales because we are a poor retail market."

The Mentor  bookstore will close as a result of its parent company, Borders Group Inc., filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the southern District of New York.

The 22,000-square-foot Mentor store is among 200 Borders stores across the nation that will be shuttered over the next few weeks as part of the company's bankruptcy reorganization plan, according to court documents filed by the company today.

The company said these stores were identified as "underperforming" and noted the closings were a reflection of economic conditions, cost structures and the viability of these locations.

However, 12-year Mentor Borders employee Lori Susa was shocked when she heard the news, saying the store had a very busy Holiday shopping season.

"We had a great Holiday season but it didn't do anything for us," Susa said. "Of course, we're bummed out. It's a total shock, but what are you going to do? There's really nothing we can do on an employee level."

Susa said that, as of this afternoon, employees have not been notified when the Mentor Borders store will close.

Mary Davis, a Borders corporate spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail, "Stores will close no later than the end of April, although they could close sooner if they sell through product. Going out of business sales begin in the next few days."

Ron Traub said he will contact Borders corporate officials, as well as First Interstate Properties of Beachwood, which owns the Mentor Borders building.

Traub said he wants to find out  what specific factors led Borders corporate executives  to close the Mentor store.

"To the extent  there were issues beyond the market's control and beyond the city's control, we would have little recourse," said Traub. "But it is my hope that a conversation demonstrating the store's strengths and the potential to help rebuild a struggling Borders coupled with strong citizen reaction would cause them to reconsider this store's closure."

In August 2009,  Borders announced it had planned to close its store in Beachwood in LaPlace shopping center.  Two months later, however,  Borders corporate officials decided to keep the store open, but they  gave no reason why they changed their minds, according to local media reports.

The company said all of its stores, including those slated for closure, will continue to honor  its  Borders Rewards program, gift cards and other customer programs.  However, customers can no longer buy gift cards at stores that are closing.  Additionally, the company expects to make employee payroll and continue its benefits programs.

According to national media reports, Borders revenue has been dropping  since 2006. In that year, the company posted revenue of $4 billion. By 2010, Borders revenue fell to $2.8 billion.

The company has been widely criticized by retail analysts for being a web latecomer. Borders launched an e-commerce site in 1998, but it was three years after Amazon.com and a year after  opened its site.

Nevertheless, Borders Group President Mike Edwards said that the company has "many strengths upon which to build a solid plan of reorganization and implement a new business model for Borders to address the changing needs of the American readers."

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