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Borders Closing San Rafael Store

Bargain hunters flock to sales at the only Marin location before it closes in May.

When the Borders Corporation cut a $60,000 check for March’s rent at their 609 West Francisco Blvd location in San Rafael, the check bounced.

“They took care of it right away, of course,” said attorney Marc Coopersmith, who is representing their landlord, Toys Center, LLC. But the bookseller, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, now plans on closing its San Rafael location in late May.

Although Borders initially planned to keep the store open, Borders officials decided to close it after Toys Center would not accept reducing rent by half, according to Coopersmith. “That offer just wasn’t sustainable,” he said.

Borders currently owes Toys Center $76,430.65 in maintenance fees and back rent. The company will not be able to pay creditors back until the bankruptcy court gives its permission, said Coopersmith.

“We tried really hard to keep [the San Rafael store],” Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. “It’s never an easy decision to close a store.” Open since 1994, the store employs 41 people. Borders will attempt to place them at other locations, Davis said. Borders' closest remaining stores are in Santa Rosa and in San Francisco, near Daly City.

Since filing for bankruptcy in February, Borders Group President Mike Edwards announced 200 stores would be closing across the country, about 30 percent of its national network.

Shoppers from all over Marin have flocked to Borders to take advantage of closing sales. All books, magazines, music and dvds are marked down between 20 to 40 percent.

Between the bookshelves, Kathleen Moroni hunched over on a stool, eyeing a stack of cookbooks and magazines. Moroni, from Mill Valley, frequents bookstores all over Marin, but she likes Borders for its staff and its space.

“It’s such a relaxed place where you can enjoy the books,” she said. “The seating area helps you if want to browse a book before buying. The staff is so resourceful.”

Borders, like all bookstores, is competing with online sources and mobile devices to reach readers. But many local independent bookstore owners, like Joel Eis from Rebound Books on Fourth Street, don’t believe mobile devices will force all bookstores to close their doors. “I couldn’t make any predictions about the future, but there are values to holding a book in your hand,” Eis said.

, also known as “the Biggest Little Bookstore in the Universe,” offers books, music and movies just like Borders. The store also has an extensive searchable computer inventory, making it easier to find some obscure items.

“I lived in small towns where [Borders] really was the best bookstore in that area,” Eis said. But with approximately 20 independent bookstores in Marin, Borders’ departure will not leave readers dry.

“We are sad to see any book outlet leave,” Eis said. “But we’re hoping to see more people in our store.”

See a list of all the independent bookstores in Marin to the right.

Pam Dixon March 31, 2011 at 10:04 PM
There are three independent book shops in downtown San Rafael: Friends Books at 1016 C Street and a block south Open Secret Books, also on C Street and Rebound Books on 4th Street at G. Book lovers will find a great selection at these small shops.
Devon Brewer March 31, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Too bad the rent is too high for Borders to stay in San Rafael. There were always many people going into that store. Business did well unlike some of the other Borders stores in the Bay Area. Toys Center LLC is going to have a hard time finding a new business who is going to pay $60,000 a month for that space.
Edwin Drake April 03, 2011 at 08:36 AM
Novato is looking for a site for a City Hall. Nothing could be more appropriate for than having the landlord be Toys Center LLC, considering how the city is run.

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