Borders Waves a Long, Slow Goodbye

The Borders book store chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday. The Borders store and Waldenbooks store the chain operates in Memphis weren’t listed in the wave of 200 stores the chain is closing that will result in several thousand job losses.

However, the chain still has an option to close up to 75 more as-yet unidentified stores.

Meanwhile, anyone who’s on Borders’ email list probably saw the company moving inexorably toward bankruptcy well before now, via a series of increasingly desperate sounding email subject lines.

Here’s a recent sample:

December 27: WATCH ALL WEEK! 2-Day Deals — Deal #2: 50% off bestsellers
December 31: 50% OFF ANY ITEM! Don’t Miss the Last of Our 2-Day Deals!
January 6: $10 in BONUS Borders Bucks — Limited Time Only!
January 6: Eat This, Not That — Shop Here, Not There… And SAVE!
January 13: WOW! A Wireless eReader Under $100 — 4 Days Only!

(Then, three days after the end of that 4-day period …)

January 20: 4 DAYS LEFT! A Wireless eReader Under $100
January 27: MUAH! Be My Valentine — Gift Ideas & SAVINGS!
January 31: FREE SHIPPING — No Minimum Purchase! Stop Shoveling, Start Shopping!

(Oh, remember the 4-day sale on the e-reader? …)

February 7: Dare to Compare! Kobo Wireless eReader Now $99.99 Every Day!

There’s a special Website now set up where Borders is putting information about its bankruptcy.

The title on the main page?

“Borders’ Business Operations Continue As Normal”

Financial News Roundup (Cadence Bank, Allen Stanford, John Paulson)

The parent company of Cadence Bank announced today the Federal Reserve has approved Cadence’s acquisition by a private equity company.

That deal will take Cadence private and infuse it with a lot of new, sorely needed capital.

Meanwhile, disgraced financial titan and former Stanford Financial namesake Allen Stanford is being moved to the same jail where Bernie Madoff lives.

And hedge fund king John Paulson has upped his stake in the parent company of First Tennessee, buying more than 136,000 shares of the company in the recent quarterly period.

Project 21

Project 21 was the code name for the big business announcement in Memphis Monday – that Mitsubishi Electric Power Products is building a 350,000-square-foot plant here to manufacture electric transformers – but it could also serve as a fitting metaphor for the city itself.

Mitsubishi chose Project 21 as the name for its $200 million investment in Memphis for a simple reason. The products that will come off the line here represent new technology for the 21st century.

The burst of major economic development news of late in Memphis – the Mitsubishi announcement, the announcement that Swedish appliance maker Electrolux is building a 700,000-square-foot plant here, among other corporate developments soon to be announced – also is pointing toward a bright start to the 21st century for Memphis.

Memphis is landing repeatedly on the radar of large multinational employers that are comfortable enough with what the city offers to invest millions of dollars putting down roots here in the form of plants and other physical infrastructure staffed with employees either hired here or brought here.

Much of that is due to the city’s intrinsic assets. But you can’t win when you fail to compete, and Memphis’ economic development team is competing mightily. It includes a strong partnership between city and county leaders, state government and the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell are one piece of that partnership, and they’re a big one. That city-county mayoral duo is one the city has had to do without in the recent past, in a time of different political leadership. Today, though, Wharton and Luttrell have no problem keeping their bags packed, keeping their schedules fluid enought to fly off to meet with corporate prospects and adding salesman-in-chief to their already long list of duties.

Fittingly, when they were called to the stage at the Peabody hotel for the Mitsubishi announcement Monday, both men rose together and walked in almost perfect unison.

Borders Chain Headed for Bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Borders book store chain is preparing to file for bankruptcy and close at least 200 of its 674 stores, leading to thousands of job losses.

Borders operates one store in the Memphis area – at 6685 Poplar Ave., in Germantown.

Memphis has definitely felt the ripple effects of the change tides of the book industry. The past year has seen the closure of Barnes and Noble and Bookstar stores, as well as the bankruptcy filing of the parent company of Davis-Kidd Booksellers.

An interesting factoid: the owner of Davis-Kidd parent Joseph Beth, Neil Van Uum, used to be married to Mary Beth Borders, a sibling of the Borders founders.

Davis-Kidd, though, is still going strong in Memphis. The company closed its Nashville store but has rallied around its strongest performing locations, including the one in Memphis.

Michael Oher, the central character in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Blind Side” will be at Davis-Kidd Wed. Feb. 16 to sign copies of his memoir “I Beat the Odds.”


The Wall Street Journal has a nice profile and interview with B.B. King in Tuesday’s edition of the paper.

To go along with that, here’s a YouTube clip of an interview where B.B. tells the famous story of how he came to name his guitar “Lucille.”