Part 4: The Reprise

I (your humble admin) was asked to help liquidate the last remaining Borders in Chicago.  It was an easy way to generate new blog content, so I jumped on the chance to be downtown by 6am every day for a second round of Bookstore Liquidation Hell.  These are my pictures…more will be added, so check back.  The store in question is Borders 405 on State Street in Chicago.


Usually I only see sunrise from an L platform after a really good night out. It's gorgeous - I would watch the sun rise every day if it didn't happen so darn early.

Borders 405

My new (temporary) home away from home.

Queue line speed table

You might want to skip these next few. I was just so happy to be merching speed tables again that I took pictures of how pretty they looked before we opened!

Queue line speed table

Queue line speed table

Queue line speed table

Queue line speed table

We heart graffiti

Graffiti of all kinds is frowned upon, of course. Still...thanks!

Guitar Pan Handler

...Not to be confused with a guitar panhandler.

Full sort room

As they emptied warehouses, we got as many as 15 pallets some days. I came in one morning to find 6 pallets inside the sort room...

Full hallway

...and another 3 pallets in the hallway to the loading dock.

Augment backstock

They sent us "augment product" from the liquidator's warehouse. This is just some of the backstock.

Bookmark spinner

I filled and merched the bookmark spinner one last time. Pretty..!

Breakfast at Borders

Breakfast at Borders.

Vera Bradley table

Look at my magically-merched Vera Bradley table!

Vera Bradley table

Front of the newly-merched Vera Bradley table (and some pillow pets).

Breakfast at Borders part 2

Breakfast at Borders, part 2.


The sign we put on our bathrooms.

Party store

If this whole bookstore thing doesn't work out, I could always go work at a party store...

Don't Panic

Tools of the trade - booksellers must be prepared for anything.


I noticed one day that the new Joffrey building has trees lining part of its rooftop.


In response to The Daily Show's segment on Borders.

Borders nostalgia mug

I should work in marketing. These sold instantly, thanks to my signage.

Best Lock toys

Why do these fake Lego people all look like drag queens..? Creepy.

Air and water show

After work one day, I stopped at the lake on the way home to relax. It was the weekend of the air and water show, and it was beautiful out!

Muppet hide throws

It's true. Muppets died to make those "sherpa" throws.

Cloudy sunrise

Sunrise on a cloudy morning / moving train.

Borders on State

View of the store from Block 37.

Hooked on Atlas

"Hoked" on Phonics? Atlas fail.


Same train platform, this time for sunset.

Kids' bargain endcap

We had boxes and boxes of these little bargain kids' travel activity and board books that were impossible to keep neat on shelves. I made this endcap and it sold within a day.

Kids' bargain endcap u-pay

The sign I made for my endcap...hehe.

IV liquidation

Instead of going to liquidate Borders one morning, I went to the ER to get myself "liquidated." Five days(!!) later, they let me go home.

Excessive antibiotics

They decided I had pneumonia. I got multiple doses of antibiotics on top of regular IV fluid. My doctor called it "excessive," but better safe than sorry?

Empty 3rd floor, part 1

When I made it back to work a week later, they had cleared the 3rd floor. Many pictures of empty cases ahead...

Empty 3rd floor, part 2

Empty 3rd floor, part 3

Empty 3rd floor, part 4

Empty 3rd floor, part 5

Empty 3rd floor, part 6

Empty 3rd floor, part 7

Cheerful optimism

It's our general manager's cheerful optimism that gets us through the days. This sign is on his office door.

Kids' destroyed

I spent all morning getting the Kids' books (and several other sections) upright on the shelf. First customer in the morning did this.

Paperchase stock room

Remember all that augment overstock in the Paperchase stock room? I was quite happy to finally get it all out on the floor.

Pom Pom Throw u-pay

Somebody had fun...but you can't say it isn't true.

Cuddling throws

Just to give you an idea of where this sign was located - closeup follows.

Cuddling throws u-pay

Yep. We went there. (I can't take credit for this - it was D.V.)

Invisibility cloaks

Mandatory invisibility cloak gag.

Morning recovery cart

On average, during liquidation, 2 to 4 carts of recovery that look like this greet us every morning.

Anuna limited quantity

VERY limited quantities!! We only had about 500 copies... Gotta love the Borders Exclusives.

Kids' empty

Our Kids' section, emptied and closed off.

Darth Borders

We had fun thinking of ways to market Borders branded e-reader cases. This one wasn't mine, but one of my favorites! (Think it was that D.V. character again...ha.)

Finger puppet

This one was definitely D.V. I love that we got away with it.

2 feet of boxes

Our liquidator called at 6am one morning and asked us to get him "2 feet" of boxes. Any veteran booksellers want to guess how many boxes are in "2 feet"?

Breakfast at Borders, part 3

Breakfast at Borders, part 3.

Huggable Area E

Those "Huggable Pets" will hug anything - including Area E.


"Thanks for calling Borders sauna. How may we melt you?" Our building's AC was out for several days. The temperature outside was in the high 60s, but inside it was mid-80s. Yikes!

Empty 2nd floor, part 1

We cleared the 2nd floor. More pictures of empty cases/areas ahead.

Empty 2nd floor, part 2

Paperchase area on the 2nd floor.

Empty 2nd floor, part 3

Empty 2nd floor, part 4

FixtureLand, formerly known as Seattle's Best Coffee cafe.

Empty 2nd floor, part 1

Empty 2nd floor, part 6

72 and sunny

72 degrees is a great improvement!

INfo2 treasure

When I cleaned out the information desk on the 2nd floor, I found one compartment had nothing but razors and bandaids. Nice!

Cheerful addendum

Someone posted a thoughtful addendum to our motto. The blankets in question are the augment product sent by the liquidator.

Romance section

When I came in before we opened for our last full day, this is what the Romance section looked like.

Romance, recovered

I knew it was pointless, but I went ahead and recovered the Romance section one last time...

Framed sadface

One of our last remaining frames was found at Area E with this note, left for us by fellow employee Paul.

Sort room decor

This was up in a corner of the sort room. For anyone who didn't spend years of their lives shipping out RPL, the green sticker originally said STRIPPED COVERS.

Box fort

We spent our last morning before opening building boxes for the bulk order (someone bought our remaining stock). I made a fort out of them! Please excuse how completely exhausted I look in this picture, and thanks to Arabel for taking it.

Bulk order

We closed our doors to the public at about 8:20am, September 14, 2011. This is our remaining stock, staged on library carts to be rung up. It was about 2,100 items and took three of us a couple hours to ring through. (We got to manually modify the price on each item, whee!)


Luckily, after two hours of ringing and modifying prices, our GM brought lunch.

Sold out - closed

The sign on our door after we closed.

405 After Dark

I think this is a great picture to end the album - a nighttime shot of the store. Thanks to Jamie from Chicago Ex-Patriate for sending it in!


5 responses to “Part 4: The Reprise

  1. Jacki Leach

    August 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Beautiful displays, but they made me sad knowing that they would soon be destroyed. Wow…just like our store, #436.

    • Booksellers Without Borders

      August 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      Every last one of those displays has been destroyed. They’ve all been rebuilt (repeatedly) or replaced since. Just the nature of the beast – but I’m glad to have one last chance to put my merch skillz to use!

  2. Zur N Arrh

    September 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    You were one of kind Rachel. I wish I had maintained the same dedication to the company that you did for so many years. You are a rare breed.

  3. Cindy

    September 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    lol! i loved the stripped cover sign! lol


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