There was a small corner grocery store when I was growing up where the owner would run a tab for folks when they couldn’t afford to pay for the essentials. And there was a gas station in town whose owner would come out, pump the gas and wash the windows or chat while the tank filled. At the local bank, the banker would sit down and do almost anything to help keep you from losing your home.
The bank is still there, but it’s been bought by a bigger bank and all loans and options have to go out to the corporate office for approval. The grocery store and gas station sit empty and have for years. They couldn’t compete with the large corporate companies who offered better deals and prettier stores to shop in.
What, you ask, does this have to do with Borders? Well, a few things. I admit, when I first heard the news of Borders financial struggles I was disappointed for them, for the publishers who weren’t getting paid and for the readers, who undoubtedly would lose a place to buy their books.
But then I though about all the small, local bookstores, the ones who’ve survived anyway, that are owned by people who love what they do. At these bookstores, you are likely to find the owner running the cash register, stocking shelves and talking with the customer. Yes, they need and want to make a profit, don’t we all, but they manage their business in a way that allows them to keep their doors open, continue to do what they love and serve the communities they live in.
Do you think those who manage the 2nd largest bookstore chain in the U.S. love books? Maybe they do and maybe they love their corporate jobs, but it’s obvious someone didn’t manage the business right. If they had loved owning a bookstore and cared about the communities they put them in, they would have managed their business in away to keep their doors open.
I realize I’m leaving out a possible big player in Border’s troubles – the e-reader world we live in. There are big names dominating this market, too, and I understand they have their value. But folks, we have a say in how we are dominated and we do that by being aware there is more than one company selling books and e-books.
Small publishers sell their author’s books online. You can down load them to your e-reader or order a paperback version. There are small independents bookstores all around us and it doesn’t stop there. Look around your community. I bet you’ll find a lot of independent local shops who would love to have your business. And believe me, they haven’t forgotten what customer service is all about.