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Borders closings might not bring happy ending for local bookstores

With bookstore Borders holding going-out-of-business sales around the country, it seems to be a reason for mom-and-pop bookstores in Charlotte to celebrate.

But Borders’ demise does not guarantee that smaller bookstores will be in the money. Rather than celebrate, most Charlotte bookstore owners said they were unsure about what kind of impact, if any, the store’s closings would have
on them.

This month, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Borders won court approval to liquidate its roughly 400 stores. It has two Charlotte locations: one in Ballantyne and the other at Northlake Mall.

Borders closed its SouthPark location in January, two months after Joseph-Beth Booksellers closed its SouthPark store.

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Pat Siegfried, co-owner of Black Forest Books and Toys, was unsure if Borders closing would affect her business.

“Hopefully it will have some impact,” she said. “But for us, Amazon has impacted us more than any other bookstore.”

Kathy Friese, co-owner of Bookmark in uptown, said she doubts that her store will have a spike in sales with Borders going out of business. “We’re too far away,” she said. “People come to us because we’re a convenience. It’s just going to be business a usual.”

Tim Hamilton, co-owner of Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth, was unsure about whether his business would be affected.

“We’re very neighborhood-oriented,” he said, “and a lot of the people who buy from us wouldn’t go to Borders anyway.”

Then there’s Lee Rathers, co-owner of Book Buyers, a used-book store in Plaza Midwood, who is concerned that Borders closures might hurt her business.

“The way we get our books is when people give theirs up,” she said. “So if they’re not getting new books from Borders, I’m not sure where that leaves us.”

But one local retailer said she has seen a spike in sales since the SouthPark Borders closed in January.

“Our numbers have steadily gone up compared to last year,” said Sally Brewster, owner of Park Road Books. “I’d say we’ve seen about a 20 percent spike in sales.”

Because the other two Borders are on the outskirts of the city, Brewster doesn’t expect as dramatic an impact as when the SouthPark store closed. But she still thinks she’ll see an uptick.

Sam Boykin can be reached at sam.boykin@mecktimes.com.

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