This is Goodbye.

Posted: July 24, 2011 in Scifi
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Over the months of coverage of Borders demise, the end is soon upon us. Yesterday, my old store #47 put up the going out of business signage on the windows and awning. Borders is going under, the sharks smell the blood in the water and that’s when it hits you; this is goodbye. I remembered starting to work for the book shop not book store back in July 1993. The concept was new whereby you could browse or shop for books while getting something to eat/drink from the café. There would be music on Friday and Saturday nights. There was a sense of a community that came out in support of Borders. This was a different shopping experience for customers and for the employees this was a different working environment.

During the first training, when the trainers talked about customer service, I thought I heard it all before; not this time. The expectation was to be with the customer, take them to the section they’re looking for and placed the book in their hands. There was no sense of rushing the customer or to simply point a direction for the customer to follow. This approach enhanced Borders to stand apart from Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million or any other book store. In addition, there was such freedom of ownership for the employees to have when overseeing their sections of the shop. For me, I wanted to work in the Genre section: Mystery, Scifi, Horror and Graphic Novels. I remembered doing chalk outlines of a dead body on the floor using masking tape for a cool display for local authors. As morbid as it sounds, kids would lie on the floor inside the outline. When it came to scifi series, I made sure that numbered series were in numerical order or in the order of the series should be read rather than the simple alphabetical arrangement by author/title. It’s these little details that may be meaningless to many customers but to those Borders customer they felt the staff cared about what they did.

There are other memories that I could go on and on about such as meeting my wife or the still ongoing relationship some 18 years later; including my co-host on my podcast Mr. Gene but frankly unless you were there, describing it in words in not enough. What I will say that after seven years of employment over 3 different store, two in Miami and one in Orlando, I outgrew Borders. By 1999, I started to go back to school and realized that Borders was changing and not for the better. The customer service that I was trained to do was slowly disappearing. Music events on Friday and Saturday nights were getting to expensive to keep up. Borders was over extending itself with way too many stores in relation to B&N. But what was the first nail on the coffin was when Borders entered into the e-commerce playing field against Amazon and B&N. Borders had been playing catch up ever since.

Yes, Borders closing is heartbreaking but there’s closure for me. I felt my head hit the glass ceiling many times but I am not bitter by the end of my career with them. I do however feel vindicated that I am a librarian today. I have gone beyond Borders but I still retained the Border’s customer service mantra. While many of my fellow librarian colleagues don’t make the effort in customer service, it was noticed by a patron. He had commented to me that no one in the library ever took him to the section and placed the book in his hands. This placed a smile on my face. This just goes to show that Borders will always be with me.

Goodbye Borders.

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