5 ways to cash in on Borders' bankruptcy
The future of the Borders bookstore chain seems dimmer than ever. But on the bright side, liquidation sales across the country mean great deals for customers.
This post comes from Karla Bowsher at partner site Money Talks News.
What do a book about the F-word and a bottle of Dr Pepper-flavored gourmet jelly beans have in common? I bought both for 30% off when my local Borders bookstore went out of business in December. And your nearest store could be next.
Borders, now in bankruptcy, expects to close 204 stores by April, which means chances are high that you too may be able to cash in. Borders plans to hold liquidation sales in these stores. Post continues after video.
According to the 21-page bankruptcy petition (.pdf file) filed Feb. 16, the company's debts outweigh its assets by more than $17.5 million. As a result, it's forced to downsize and attempt to stay alive on a smaller scale. "Borders is not going out of business," says BordersReorganization.com, which was launched to explain the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. "Borders, however, will be closing underperforming stores within our network over the next several weeks."
To find out if a store in your area is closing, check Borders' own list (.pdf file), helpfully alphabetized by state and city.
To find out how you and your pocketbook can take advantage of these stores, read on:
Be sure you want it. Even if the item you're eying is marked down, take a moment to think about whether it's still worth the money. Items purchased during liquidation sales are often nonreturnable. The signs in the windows of my Borders before it closed for good clearly stated that everything must go -- and that nothing was returnable. But even if yours doesn't say so, it's wise to assume that's the case if you don't want to get stuck paying for what turns out to be an impulse buy or a defective product.
I frequently browse bookstores but rarely purchase books from them. I use them to scope out books I'm interested in and then go home to find them for less money on sites like Half.com. (It just so happened that adding a crisp, clean, hardcover copy of "The F Word" to my linguistics book collection was well worth the 30%-off price tag.) Because you can't really give used books as gifts, however, liquidation sales are also a great time to purchase presents (remember: Easter is in April and Mother's Day is in May) -- as long as you're sure the recipient won't want to return them.
"In the past, some troubled retailers have continued to honor gift cards while restructuring under bankruptcy reorganization, while others put restrictions on how the cards could be used," The Detroit News reported. "But the stores may not have a choice if a bankruptcy court decides to put claims from gift card holders at the back of the line of creditors."
According to its bankruptcy petition, Borders owes hundreds of millions to creditors like publishers and greeting card manufacturers. So, if you want to be on the safe side, spend your gift cards ASAP -- and certainly don't purchase any.
I visited a closing Borders just before the holidays, so it was especially busy and messy. One employee snapped at me when I picked up a notebook from a display he said he had just painstakingly reorganized. Normally, I would have snapped right back or considered reporting him, but instead, I apologized and promised to put the item back where I found it. After all, the holidays were approaching and the poor guy may not have known when he would lose his health insurance or find his next paycheck. Besides, courtesy doesn't cost a dime.
More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:
Your comment, about browsing bookstores but rarely buying from them is just why you're now writing about a liquidation sale. I work at a closing Borders and I can tell you it's a very sad and disgusting process. People do not care if they trash the place . It's appalling. But you were right in not snapping back at the employee who snapped at you. For us, it's like being at a wake and so many customers are insensitive to that fact that it's easy to snap. There is no incentive to be nice any longer. The company has discarded you and your coworkers and the community has lost a valuable asset.
What's interesting to me is how the bargain seeking vultures flock into a closing store and wait in line for an hour and a half in order to get 20 percent off their purchases. If they'd been Borders Rewards Members, a free service, they would have gotten a discount coupon for at least 33 percent every week, often for 40 percent or as much as 50 percent off. Then after waiting in line for that 20 percent off, one gloated to me how she found a couple of Christmas presents for next year. Good for you, I hope you'll pass them out while you think about how my coworkers may not be able to afford a Christmas this year. And why weren't you here supporting us this past Christmas?
It's the end of an era and it's very sad.
I visited my local Borders yesterday (a holiday!) and I was astonished by the mess and how people cannot be civilized while shopping for bargains.
Then it ocurred that no one cares!
Not the public shopping...
Not the employees loosing their jobs...
It was really sad to see.
GroovyMom, this is one of the few areas where Wal-mart is not at fault. Wal-mart always has an awful, tiny little book selection. I rarely buy books at Wally World because they rarely have anything I want to read. Over the years all the bookstores have had dwindling offerings of the genres I like to read. They all offer to order any book I want but I have always preferred to see a book first before I decide to buy it. Sometimes I go to a store looking for a good read but there isn't enough of a selection so I leave empty handed.
The first nail in the coffin for the major book stores occurred several years ago with Amazon. People liked being able to stay home to buy books and just have them shipped. You would be surprised at how much of the country still doesn't have any of the big book stores nearby. It's not hard to see how people would rather have books shipped than drive 60 miles or more to a book store. The more recent attack comes from the IPad and e-readers like Kindles and Nooks. Many of the readers require that the e-books be bought from specific vendors (For example Kindle books have to be bought from Amazon.) I personally don't like that but so far standardization doesn't seem to be a priority with the manufacturers. Also, as with Amazon you can simply buy your e-books online and not have to go to a physical book store. People have just one more reason not to go to bookstores. I hate to see book stores disappear but it's starting to look inevitable.
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