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Borders Closes Santa Monica Chapter

By Jorge Casuso

December 22 – Borders Books and Music -- a staple of the Promenade for more than a decade and one of the last booksellers left in a city that takes pride in its cultural scene -- will close its doors January 10, the latest victim of a tanking economy.

A hangout for book lovers who prowled its three floors of books and CDs, browsed in its reading nooks and sipped coffee in its café, Borders has long faced stiff competition from Barnes and Noble, which bookends the other edge of the Promenade.

The store, whose closure was announced with a large corporate-red sign posted near the front door this weekend, is one of five Borders stores closing nationwide, according to company officials. Stores in Tempe, Arizona and Cincinnati also are closing.

"We regularly evaluate our stores," Borders spokeswoman Bonnie Schmick told the press.

Borders still has stores on the Westside on Westwood Boulevard in West LA and in Century City.

"We do have other stores in that general area, so this may be a case of oversaturation," Schmick said.

Borders is the latest bookstore to shut its doors in a city that once claimed more than a dozen booksellers, including five used bookstores Downtown that closed or moved after the Promenade gained momentum in the early 1990s.

Five years ago, Midnight Special, the city’s largest independent bookseller, was forced off the popular strip by rising rents and was unable to make a go of it on 2nd street, shutting down after only a year.

Earlier this year, Wilshire Books, one of the city’s two remaining general used bookstores, shut down. Only Angel City Books on Pier Avenue off Main Street has managed to stay open.

Besides Barnes and Noble, only Hennessey & Ingalls, which moved from the Promenade around the corner to Wilshire Boulevard, and Arcana Books, survive. Both specialize in visual arts books.

Arcana, which remains on the Promenade, could face an uncertain future under a new property owner, sources said.

Shortly after Borders opened its doors on the Promenade, Publisher’s Weekly said the outlet near the south end of the strip “courageously stocks literature on the first floor. (B&N puts its fiction and literature section on the third floor, as far from the entrance as possible.)

“People don't hang out here as much as at Barnes & Noble because there are far fewer chairs in the store proper, but the cafe on the first floor, with both indoor and outdoor seating, is a popular spot,” the magazine wrote.

Still, its relative comfort and eclectic selection may have been the store’s downfall, luring browsers who often walked out without a purchase.

Borders isn’t the only chain store shutting down on the Promenade. The Kira Plastanina fashion store next door announced last week that it would be closing.





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