Sunday, 20 December 2009

Borders UK in Administation :(

Probably most of you know of this already, but the book store Borders has gone into administration (at least, the UK division has, I don't know about other countries) :( Another casualty of the recession, I suppose.

I didn't actually hear about it till last week, and I didn't actually believe it till I went down to my parents house and passed the Borders store in Glasgow and saw all the closing down sale signs. It made me feel really sad. Whenever I go to my parents house to visit, it involves a long bus journey, and I have to change at Glasgow. So I would always pop in when I passed, and more often than not, buy a book (usually a knittng book) or a magazine or two or three. ;)

I went in to look at the sale, and it was so sad to see all the half-empty shelves. I felt like a total vulture looking round them all. The knitting and crochet section, which is where I went first, was totally decimated.

I bought a couple of books in the Glasgow store: Favorite Socks from Interweave Press, and Wrapped in Crochet by Kristen Omdahl. I'd been very interested in Wrapped in Crochet for ages, but it hadn't actually been on the shelves in the Glasgow store till then (I'd been looking for it specifically). Favorite Socks, well that was a bit of a vulture purchase. I'd seen it before, but hadn't been that interested when I flicked through it. But I figured with 30% off, it would be worth it. Then I looked at it more in depth on the bus home.

OMG, I want to make everything in that book! Seriously. I think next year I'll be doing my own Favorite Socks KAL - I guess it's not really a knit-a-long if you're the only one doing it though ;) and knitting through all the patterns in this book. I think this is the first book where I've actually seen the potential in all the patterns. Even with Cookie A's book, I love most of the patterns but there are a few that I'm not so interested in, or just plain wouldn't wear. But with Favorite Socks, I think I would knit and wear all of them.

I went to the Dundee store with some friends as well, and bought some other books, but they're not knitting or dance related. One was about lighting in photography, something that I'm realising I need to understand much more in depth. One was a book with Japanese patterns, and one was a book on Japanese death poetry. I thought the bf would like that for his Christmas ;) Yep, he's almost as weird as myself!

Anyway, Borders shutting down made me think about how different the high street in the UK looks compared to ten or even five years ago. There are almost no cd or record stores now. There used to be about 3 in every town that I can think of. There was space for HMV, Our Price, Virgin and loads of others to compete. And the pattern of them closing and being replaced by online stores seems to be repeating with book stores. It's really sad. I know that online stores like amazon have a lot more choice, and cheaper prices in general, but it's still sad that the options for high street purchases are rapidly diminishing. Sometimes it's good to just go into a store and look about to see what catches your eye, but that's becoming ever more impossible. I think you can stumble across some really interesting things in brick and mortar stores, that you just wouldn't come across on the internet. Of course, that argument works both ways, you can come across interesting things on the internet that stores just wouldn't stock, but I think it's important to have choice.

I guess what I'm saying is: whenever you can afford it, please buy things from brick and mortar stores. I buy a lot of things online because prices are cheaper, some things are easier to find online, and it's convenient. But is convenience a good reason for encouraging losing choice? I'm beginning to re-evaluate my own shopping behaviour, and I think I'll be changing some of it soon. For instance, Woolworths used to be the main store to buy a lot of household items, and now that's gone, I find I need to buy a lot of small things from ebay sellers because they're just not in the stores. Sewing equipment for example. So whenever I see something online that I could buy from a local store, I'll be going to the local store, if I can afford the increased price at that time (and the increased price isn't too much more)

To be honest, I'm not sure if anything can slow down this trend of high street stores closing, or if it's just a natural consequence of the internet. Things do change in life, after all, and maybe this is just the way shopping in a capitalist culture is evolving. But I do know that I think choice is important, and I think I'll have to look at my own behaviour to see how I can encourage choice.


Kate said...

IMHO, I think iPods and being able to download a song or album instantly are what killed record shops (showing my age there!) rather than it being the internet. Though now you can pick up CDs in ASDA and Tesco with the food shopping, it can't be doing them any favours. :-/

I loved Borders. I went to the Glasgow branch once when I was on holiday, but the first one I went to was in Brighton and I was blown away by the selection of craft books and the fact they sold knitting magazines that weren't Simply Knitting. Locally, there's either Waterstone's or WHSmith and the selection is almost non-existent: occasionally I'll spy a copy of Stitch 'n Bitch or a Debbie Bliss baby book, but the knitting books I want are usually ones that even Amazon don't sell, so I have to go to a specialist online shop. I tried to order one book from Waterstones, but it was pretty much a "computer says no" moment where it couldn't possibly exist because it wasn't on their system, despite me having the ISBN.

Sorry, gone off into my own rant. :-) But I completely agree about Woolworths. There's just nothing to replace it on the high street. My issue is giant Toblerones. Where do you get them now? I want to buy one for MrB's stocking, and suspect I'm going to have to trapise into Sainsbury's which will be a nightmare. :-(

Karen said...

I'm writing from Michigan. It's the same here. In particular I think it's hard for yarn stores to stay open--and yet it's so nice to go in, feel the yarn, and get advice from people who know!

Samsara said...

I quite agree with you there...our town is full of pound shops and charity shops...not very satisfying when you need a bit of retail therapy!