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Kalispell Borders to Close by September
As chain store closes, used booksellers worry about future
A pedestrian crosses the street on her way to the Kalispell Borders bookstore. Borders is currently the second largest bookstore in the United States and will be closing its remaining 399 stores by the end of September. - Steele Williams/Flathead Beacon
Borders announced last week the company was unable to find a buyer and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, forcing the Michigan-based bookseller to close 399 stores, including the Kalispell branch.

According to spokeswoman Mary Davis, 25 people will lose their jobs at the local store, which is expected to close at the end of the September. Beginning late last week liquidation sales were starting nationwide and Davis said stores would close once everything was sold.

But the effect of the closure is trickling beyond Borders, with some of the Flathead’s local used booksellers concerned the loss of the box store could also mean a loss of books in circulation.

“Personally I hate to see it close,” said Jim Handcock, owner of Blacktail Mountain Books in Kalispell, because many of the books he sells originally came from Borders.

“I don't do anything new and a lot of my customers bought books at Borders, read them and brought them to me,” he added.

Handcock said he had a great working relationship with the chain store and often the two businesses worked together. When a customer was looking for a new book Handcock didn't have, he'd send them to Borders and they would often return the favor.

Carol Rocks at Bad Rock Books in Columbia Falls shared similar concerns about Borders closing. Rocks often receives up to 200 paperback books a week and many of them come from places like Borders.

“I'm really sorry to see Borders go; I mean even I shopped there,” Rocks said.

Rocks can still rely on people bringing books they purchase outside the area, online or at grocery stores, but the loss of a larger selection because of Borders’ closure could have an impact. She also said that the closure didn’t surprise her, attributing it to books that are overpriced by publishers.

“There are lots of people who shop at Borders who come and buy used books because they don't want to spend that type of money all the time,” she said.

Handcock is skeptical another chain bookstore will replace Borders in the Kalispell area, but it wouldn't surprise him if an independent store were to start up.

“We have the people here to support a Borders,” he said. “I think Kalispell needs a Borders or Barnes and Nobles.”
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