How does a vulture feel when it feasts upon the dead? Probably with less guilt than when I went shopping at Borders bookstore over the weekend. Borders used to be one of my favorite bookstores in town. It was so much nicer than the old mall based bookstores like B. Dalton's or Waldenbooks. It had a huge selection, cozy chairs to lounge in, piped in music, and a coffee bar. I used to go in every Sunday morning, because that was the only day of the week we finished morning rounds early during residency, and just relax and browse through some magazines or interesting coffee table books.
But now Borders has declared bankruptcy and started liquidating all of its stores. This past weekend, our Borders store was a madhouse. The parking lot was completely filled. Like a witness at a gruesome accident scene, I couldn't turn away. I too returned to my favorite bricks and mortar bookstore to see what the commotion was all about. Then I remembered why I stopped shopping at Borders.
The store was festooned with sale signs. "All DVD 20% off!" "All children's books 10% off!" "All romance novels 30% off!" I headed off to the children's section--nothing is more important than keeping your children well read. Even though the books were only ten percent off, most of the good stuff was already cleared off the shelf. Only a few scraggly Harry Potter books were left. Disappointed, I walked to the video section. Now here was something I could appreciate. "All Blu Ray 40% off!" This looked promising. I started grabbing some Blu Ray movies that I had wanted to buy but never got around to it. Then I looked at the list price. $29.99? $39.99? You got to be kidding. They obviously jacked up the price before declaring this huge discount. $45.99 for a Disney Blu Ray? A quick search on my evil iPhone quickly resulted with multiple vendors selling the same disk online for less, plus they're tax free and have free delivery.
I noticed many customers were doing the same thing. With a quick flick on a smartphone, anybody can price shop any item from any store in the world. One is no longer dependent on the pricing whims of the local retailer. Of course this is why bricks and mortar stores are having such a hard time competing against internet retailers. I hadn't bought anything at Borders in years unless it was something I absolutely had to have RIGHT NOW and couldn't wait for delivery. Even then I always felt buyers remorse after paying sometimes twice what I could find on the internet for the same thing.
As I walked out of Borders for the last time empty handed, I looked sadly at the busy employees rushing around the store trying to help all the scavengers showing up for the final feast. They were smiling and friendly but it must have been very difficult to keep their chins up knowing they will soon be one of the millions of unemployed in this country. Seems like the only way to keep a job in this country nowadays is to work at Facebook or be a doctor.