As part of my SXSW prep, earlier tonight I took a drive up to East Brunswick to do some shopping at the fat guy clothing store.  As I drove down Rt. 18 south, I passed the Mid-State Mall and noticed something…odd.  Something out of place.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned in this space on at least one occasion that I used to work at Borders – Borders Store #42, to be specific.  The one in the Mid-State Mall in East Brunswick.  It started as a part time job between seasons at Six Flags, but I ended up staying on full time, and eventually got promoted into a position where they trusted me with a LOT of money. I enjoyed my time at that store, and still keep in touch with a few of the people I worked with there, but after two years, I moved on to new ventures.

Anyway, I mentioned that there was something odd about the Mid-State Mall tonight, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, because a reasonably-new Starbucks (the kind with a drive-thru window) is sitting on the corner of the property where the enormous jughandle used to be, and therefore obscured my view.

borders_fail.jpgI took way too much time shopping, but as I returned north on Rt. 18 (heading toward Rt. 1, and eventually, home), I investigated.  And while my discovery confirmed my suspicions, it didn’t make it any easier to digest:  Borders #42 is officially closed.

I’m not sure why I was so shocked by this development – the store was chronically understaffed, even when I worked there; the fixtures were falling apart (and sometimes falling on employees!); and the location was, frankly, kinda crummy.  (Hell, look at the picture – those letters have been out for 10 years!) And according to an article from the Sentinel, Borders says the store was ‘underperforming’, although I find that somewhat hard to believe – Store #42 was (at least when I worked there) always at the top of the sales charts for our region, due in no small part to the high volume of computer books we sold – you know, the ones that are never discounted and weigh 40 lbs?  Yeah, those.  So I can’t quite fathom how the store ‘underperformed’.  But from what I’ve been reading in the press, there were a lot of ‘underperforming’ Borders stores to get the axe, so it shouldn’t be that surprising.

Still, I’m a little sad to see the store sitting there, closed down and gutted, with only an 8 1/2 x 11 typed note in the front window thanking customers for 15 years of patronage.  It’s another small part of my past that I’ll never be able to revisit.