|Borders closes its' doors in West Wichita|
I have been an entrepreneur since birth, asking my older sister to accompany to city hall at the tender age of eleven so that I could pay twenty five of my hard earned dollars to the local government to procure my trademark and business license for "Kristian's Cards," a baseball card shop I envisioned setting up in my parent's basement, which never quite took flight. I'm not quite sure that their house was zoned for commercial use anyways.
After that it was "Kristian's Care," where I was willing to do anything that anyone in the neighborhood was willing to pay me ten bucks an hour to do, whether it be babysitting, lawn mowing, weeding, mulching, painting, life guarding at parties, dog-walking, house-sitting, etc. There was also "Camp Ton-a-Fun-a" where the neighborhood kids would hang out in my backyard for a week and play sports and Super Soakers.
Lastly, I had a sweet gig my mother got me at the "Christmas Attic" in Alexandria, Virginia, where the gracious owner paid me fifteen bucks an hour to dress up like The Nutcracker, The Easter Bunny and even the skinniest Santa Claus in history to pass out fliers and coupons on the street outside the store.
At some point in my employment history, I decided to take a pay cut to work in a Borders bookstore. It is almost a given that you aren't going to make any big bucks working as a bookseller, a writer or in just about any literary pursuit for that matter. For every J.K. Rowling out there, there are millions of bibliophiles content to plug along for near minimum wage just for the pleasure of being around good books and good people all day long.
I worked at the Deerfield, Illinois Borders location for just about one year. I started off strong, winning the coveted "Employee of the Month" honors my third month on the job. My enthusiasm for keeping the Reference section in perfect order and completing checkouts in record time faded fast, and I soon asked to be transferred to the cafe, where I became a barista before they were called baristas, at least as far as I can remember. I took frequent cigarette breaks in the parking lot with twin sisters and fellow worker bees who became fast friends, and many of my high school friends would come in to try the "Kristian Special," a mystery smoothie I concocted, the ingredients of which would change on a daily basis. Eventually, higher learning called and I left my post at Borders to attend college. While at Wake Forest, I even inquired about employment at the local one-room bookstore, but it was abundantly clear that this was a one man operation.
Since college, I have frequented independent and chain bookstores on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. I have many fond memories of experiences at Borders in Wichita and throughout the United States. I would frequent their semi-annual clearance sales, often leaving each store with a trunk full of books after bonding with whichever unlucky employee had the misfortune of having to check me out on the somewhat antiquated digital register, which did not change very much at all since my stint there in the late 90's.
I became particularly fond of the east Wichita Borders crew: Jen, Anne, Kelley, Michelle, Glen, Carissa, Addie, Tom and the rest of the characters who assisted me so patiently and gracefully over the years. The atmosphere in the store was always a pleasant, fun-loving and jovial one, and in my opinion, there was no better way on Rock Road to kill an hour. I even had the pleasure of dating a barista named Danielle who worked there for a short while, after we bonded over our shared appreciation for The Postal Service, which was playing over the store speaker system one evening.
During the first round of Borders closings several months ago, I had both the pleasure and displeasure of stocking up on loads of new inventory at a fraction of the retail price (95% off plus, 10% off the total with Borders Rewards- no, they weren't free, but damn near close to it). Many of you are aware that I have recently been on a long vacation and a 21 days of golf and tennis challenge. But before all of this happened, I was traveling around the Midwest in a cargo van picking up massive amounts of inventory at 5 Borders bookstore, and then frantically listing most of these books via Amazon's FBA program to be able to make the vacation happen.
|Loading up inventory at the Lawrence, KS Borders|
I also had the displeasure of witnessing the end of an era. On the last hour of the last day at the east Wichita location, I could tell how hard it was on the gals when they closed the door for the last time. I can only imagine how much they have missed each other's fellowship in the last several months.
So tonight, as I drove by the West Wichita Borders for the last time, and witnessed a store cleared out of inventory and with only a few stray fixtures left, I couldn't help but get a bit nostalgic over the closing of a bookstore where I had so many positive memories and spent so much quality time reading, writing, studying, socializing and cultivating my bibliomania.
At the same time, I am cautiously optimistic for the success of the local independents: Watermark Books, Book-a-Holic