Book is almost closed on Borders; Letter from CEO

Isn’t this story getting old?

Even if it is, it’s apparently not over yet.

Memphis may be losing another bookstore. Borders, which still operates one of its giant shops near Germantown, is on the verge of a complete liquidation of the book chain.

That’s according to a story in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. A deal to save the company has apparently fallen through.

The chain’s president sent this letter to employees Wednesday:

“As you know, we have been working towards a successful sale of the Company and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the latest developments. Under the previously announced sale process, Borders had two alternate options for a Stalking Horse bidder: the Najafi proposal, or a group including Hilco and Gordon Brothers, who would purchase the store assets of the business and undertake an orderly wind-down. Late this afternoon, Najafi informed us that they have decided to withdraw as the stalking horse proposal, and therefore we will submit the Hilco and Gordon Brothers proposal to the Court for the purposes of serving as the Stalking Horse bidder at the auction next week.

While we regret Najafi’s withdrawal as the Stalking Horse bidder, we remain hopeful that they or other potential bidders who are interested in operating Borders as a going concern will choose to participate in the auction process on July 19.

In the meantime, as the process moves forward, we will continue to conduct business as usual. Our stores remain open, and Borders.com is fulfilling orders as usual. It’s important that we all stay focused recognizing that media speculation will no doubt continue.

I am tremendously proud of all of you and your commitment to Borders. Your dedication is making an important difference, and we are beginning to see a positive impact from the changes we are making. Thank you for all you are doing.

Mike”

McEwen’s Partners to Open Cooper-Young Eatery

The owners of McEwen’s on Monroe are branching out of Downtown Memphis into Midtown’s restaurant and retail epicenter, Cooper-Young.

Bert Smythe and John Littlefield, operating partners of McEwen’s, are teaming up with Karen Roth of Erling Jensen and Soulfish’s Ben McLean to set up shop in the 5,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Grace and Au Fond Farmtable, 938 and 940 S. Cooper St. The yet-to-be named eatery will feature small plates and trendy cocktails.

Jimmy Lewis with Rasberry Commercial Real Estate represented the tenant. James and Larry Block, also with Rasberry CRE, are the landlord reps.

From a location standpoint, Lewis said, the space is ideal. But from a space standpoint, this tenant is doing a 180 of the norm these days – leasing too much.

“It actually is larger than most restaurateurs would undertake – realistically, it’s 25 percent more space than this operation needs,” Lewis said. “That is one of the minor offsetting characteristics of the space, it’s a little bit large for what they’re trying to do, but they’ll make good use of the space. I think at the end of the day, they will be glad that they’ve got the extra space.”

For more in-depth coverage of Midtown real estate, be sure to check out Friday’s edition of The Daily News.

Graceland attendance drop

The Memphis home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll saw a 4 percent drop in attendance from 2009 to 2010.

Attendance figures for Graceland released earlier this year in the 2010 annual report of the parent company of Elvis Presley Enterprises show more than 540,000 people visited Graceland in 2009. That dropped to about 519,000 people in 2010.

The annual report does have some interesting things to say about business opportunities at Graceland -

“The Graceland attraction was opened to the public in the 1980s and lacks many of the amenities and points-of-sale that one would expect from a tourist destination that garners over 500,000 visitors per annum. We see an opportunity to renovate the Graceland visitor experience as well as the adjacent Heartbreak Hotel to attract attendees and generate incremental per capita spending on merchandise and food & beverage.”

Debt Ceiling, David Waddell on CNBC and a former prez from TN

David Waddell, president of Waddell and Associates and columnist for The Daily News, appeared on CNBC a few weeks ago to talk about the U.S. economy as it relates to the “debt ceiling” drama.

“We don’t have a tax code problem,” he said, a nod to suggestions by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that one of the ways they’d try to meet in the middle is by cleaning up the tax code, and somehow that would lead to everyone happily playing in the same political sandbox again. “We have an economic problem.”

Waddell took issue with a suggestion from the show’s other guest that symbolic taxes on the very rich don’t really solve the problem and that the economy really needs much bigger cuts in government spending than what either side is throwing around now.

Unfortunately, he said it’s not likely we’re going to rebuild the bloated ship of state into a sleek schooner between now and August 2 – the drop-dead date when the U.S. Treasury said it’s out of money and has to borrow more or else.

I wish I could inject into this frantic national debate some words from a Tennessean who once occupied the White House a long time ago:

“It is time to pause in our career, to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the revolution of the fathers of our Union. If we can not at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy.”

Amy LaVere at the Shell this weekend

Amy LaVere is back.

Her new studio album will be released next week (July 19). It was produced by Craig Silvey, who worked with Arcade Fire on the record that won that band album of the year at the Grammys in February.

Some of the recording was done at New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall. LaVere’s hometown fans get a treat Saturday July 16 with a CD release party at 8:30 p.m. at the Levitt Shell.

Amy told me about her plans in April 2010 shortly after she’d settled on working with Silvey for her new record. She recalled Silvey coming out to see her shows when she was in London, and he did the sound for her when she was in London to appear on “Later … With Jools Holland.”

“He gets me,” she told me. “He’s worth the wait.”

A sentiment that will no doubt be shared by her fans about, well, her when she turns up at Overton Park this weekend.

Spin.com apparently liked the new record. Here’s their review:

“Part winsome alt-country gal and part avenging angel, Amy LaVere has made the breakup album of the year. Starting with ‘Damn Love Song’ (imagine a swampier ‘Hell’s Bells’), LaVere shoots one poisoned pop arrow after another at her ex. “You Can’t Keep Me” sports a hostage’s plea and an ominous organ that recalls Steve Nieve’s shadowing of Elvis Costello. ‘Great Divide’ traffics in tricky, Talking Heads time signatures while lamenting the spaces between lovers. LaVere sounds like a gifted kidnap victim — scared, angry, resourceful. You just know she’s going to set herself free.”

Dansette

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