|End Of Borders Stores Could Open Up Book Market|
|Written by Eric Tiansay|
|Monday, 15 August 2011 10:02 AM EDT|
Christian retailers look to ‘step in and fill the gap’ as chain shutters remaining outlets; CBA offers action steps
Borders’ liquidation presents a “great opportunity” for Christian retailers—both chains and independents as well as marketing groups, according to industry leaders. They say the Christian retail channel could see a boost in business following the second-biggest U.S. bookstore chain’s seeking court approval in July to sell off its assets and shutter its remaining 399 stores.
CBA Executive Director Curtis Riskey said that the liquidation offers a “great opportunity” for local Christian stores, especially markets where Borders operated. “Christian stores have an opportunity to add to their customer family by engaging former Borders patrons who are avid readers and like the physical store environment,” he said.
At CBA’s Web site, it has compiled tips and techniques to “inspire retailers to take proactive action now to reach out and capture new customers,” Riskey added.
“We are saddened that Borders’ liquidation will mean lost opportunities for the sale and distribution of Christian books and Bibles to a world in desperate need of them,” he said. “At the same time, hundreds of store closings present opportunity for others, including independent retailers, to step in and fill the gap.”
Mardel Christian & Education President Jason Green said Borders’ liquidation presents “many opportunities for Christian retail stores to be discovered” by customers who may have shopped Borders.
“We see this as an opportunity to serve those customers who previously shopped Borders’ stores that may not have been a customer or regular customer of ours,” he said. “Our hope is that we encounter new faces that we can win over with our selection and service.”
Munce Group President Kirk Blank said that Borders’ closing “opens up some additional selling and service opportunities” for member stores of the marketing group. This summer, Munce Group sent a market-by-market summary to suppliers of the Borders stores that were closing and to Munce retailers located in the area.
“We encouraged our vendors to contact those Munce Group stores and provide additional support and information to them,” Blank said. “The response was favorable and we had received feedback from some of the Munce Group stores. There was some increase in store traffic, and even a few customers who mentioned they had been customers at Borders and now would shop more frequently at the Munce Group member store.”
Parable Group CEO Steve Potratz said that Borders’ liquidation provided “some opportunities.” “First, it provides an opportunity to purchase some great equipment at low cost,” he said. “I went to our local Borders and put my name on their sale cart, some endcap carts and book carts for my store. Second, this removes a major competitor from our market and gives us an opportunity to re-acquire customers. I plan to increase my Internet banner advertising to remind those customers that we are here and can serve them well.”
Jerry Bloom, president at Wholesale Christian Books, said that his discount company would not be impacted since he did not do business with Borders.
“Other bargain book dealers will feel some impact, but it’s better to have no customer than a customer that cannot pay its obligations,” he said. “Since Borders has been financially strapped over the past several years, many bargain book dealers have stepped back from offering them product.”
Bloom added that there would not be millions of returns flooding back to publishers because products from Borders stores were to be liquidated to the public through discounted sales.
“The liquidation will probably impact the local markets for a short time,” said Bloom, noting that he was interested in buying Borders store fixtures. “Retailers such as Half Price Books will feel it more than others (due to reduced pricing from the liquidation). Christian retailers may feel a short pinch in the liquidation period, but nothing huge because Borders isn’t that strong in the Christian book market.”
Christian publishers were among many publishing houses owed at least a total of $230 million by the chain when it filed for bankruptcy in February.
Tom Knight, senior vice president of sales for Thomas Nelson, said that the company did not discuss financial details from any its customers. “This process has been going on for quite a while, allowing us to effectively manage our internal business with Borders,” he said.
Owed $1.9 million, Zondervan was among the top 20 publishers on Borders’ creditors’ list. The parent company of Zondervan, HarperCollins was owed $25.8 million. “Over the short term, we will do what we need to work through the liquidation, while focusing on ensuring that Zondervan products are available wherever the consumer is shopping,” said Tara Powers, spokesperson for Zondervan.
Baker Publishing Group Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Lewis said that Borders owed the company less than 1% of its annual sales. “Baker sold to Borders on a cash-on-delivery basis after the (bankruptcy) filing,” he said. “That amounted to a few hundred thousand dollars (worth) of books.”