The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Closing Time


       Nothing like waiting until the last minute.  It's something I often do.  I've decided to submit an entry to the first challenge for Rachel Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign.  You can find the rules here.   If you're doing the challenge you probably know the rules; if you're not doing the challenge you may not care about the rules so just read and enjoy.  My story begins and ends with the qualifying prompt phrases and clocks in at exactly 200 words according to my MS Word count.

Closing Time

        The door swung open to admit a solemn cluster of people who had been waiting outside.  As they entered the store the people dispersed, some milling with looks of apprehension as their eyes scanned the surrounding shelves, while others moved with intention as they filled arms or plastic baskets with books.

        Signs throughout the store stated what had been seen on the outside:  LAST DAY!  ALL BOOKS 4 FOR $5.00 STORE CLOSES AT 3 PM.    Even the display fixtures were for sale.  Most of the shelves had been emptied and the remaining stock had been moved to the front of the store.  Now most of the store was roped off looking like a party room after the guests had gone.

        For five hours a steady flow of customers came and went quietly on a quest for a bargain and to pay a final tribute to the store that had been there for the past ten years.  The lines were modest as customers were efficiently checked out by polite clerks who seemed more like carnival workers on the last day of a fair.

      After today the Borders Bookstore would be closed forever.   At precisely three o'clock, the door swung shut.


       Have any of you gone to your local Borders store to take advantage of the clearance sales?   What extraordinary bargains did you find?



  1. This is just sad! I'm practically in tears. We have a Walden's in the mall that had some good discounts, but the Borders that was 40 minutes away closed some time ago. I miss it already.

  2. I remember our nearest Borders store closing a while back - it was too far for me to get to it but my daughter went in and said it was so sad and depressing. She felt so sorry for the staff, who were still maintaining a cheery disposition despite the fact if was a few days before Christmas and they'd have little to look forward to in the coming New Year!

    She bought a few items, mainly because it was the last chance to shop there - she said it was like paying her respects after a funeral!

    Here in the UK, our main book retailer, Waterstones, is closing stores and may well go the way of Borders.

    Now, if you want to buy books here you are at the mercy of what the supermarkets are willing to sell - or else you have to buy online and give the mighty Am@zon even MORE power!

    In our home town, one frail little independent bookstore exists to supply educational texts and local interest publications, with a smattering of fiction titles but very little choice - it will soon probably give up the ghost, I fear!

    ....and when the last door of the last bookshop closes just you watch Am@zon hike it's prices!


  3. What a great flash fiction piece. I love how it is a current topic we can all relate to. BTW - I'm not sure what is going on but I did not show up as a follower when I came this morning. It is obvious something is going on with blogger and me. I'm 'following' again. If for some reason it shows I'm not following. I did NOT unfollow. Okay, just had to let you know that. :)

  4. It is sad when bookshops close. We are fortunate in having independent bookshops in the market town a couple of miles away.
    I looked at the Platform-Building Campaign - but it's too late to join in:-/ Next time, maybe.

  5. Ack! The whole situation is so sad, but at least it gave you a great topic for your post. That was a good read.

  6. It's sad to see a shop close down.
    You expressed this very well.

    Here in the UK established books shops in various areas arfe shutting up shop.

    Again Lee well written.


  7. That's certainly appropriate! We don't have a Borders, so I didn't catch any of the sales.

  8. 250 more people have hit our unemployment lines. There's rumors of something called Books-a-Million taking the spot.
    I miss seeing my grandson's face light up every time he had the special treat of going there

  9. Lee, I think yours was the first story in this challenge I've read this week which didn't include some horrid killings, crime of vampires :) Congrats on that. And yours has a nostalgic message.

  10. Sad and true. Great job pulling the reader into the mood.

  11. Lovely way with words, moving tale of the clousure.

    Its sad that such a book retailing giant should close.

  12. Miranda -- I went by my closest mall yesterday. Borders is the only bookstore there. There are 5 more days of sale left. I'll probably try to swing by on the last day when prices hit rock bottom.

    Sue H -- I hope Amazon doesn't raise their prices. They still have a bit of online competition.

    Ciara -- I hope your (and everyone else's blog issues get cleared up). It's been rather frustrating.

    Janice -- Independent bookshops are becoming few and far between.

    Matthew -- Thanks. I had just visited my nearest Borders earlier in the day and when I got home this story just hit me.

    Yvonne -- All of these store closings worldwide are disturbing.

    Alex -- There are some real book bargains to be had. I'll probably go back in the next day or so.

    Mooderino-- It looks like the end of an era that may not be so favorable for authors. Or it may be just time to rethink the way we do things.

    Mary -- Boos-A-Million is better than no book store. It's definitely a different book buying experience. My dad used to love to go there. It's a treasure hunt and you never know what you will find there.

    Dezmond -- I noticed a similar trend, but that seems to be a general trend among the writers' blogs that we tend to be exposed to. But the closing bookstores are in a way scarier than any supernatural story since it's a sign of the vampirism of our blood-sucking economy of late.


  13. Ruth -- I thank you for your visit.

    Jason -- And it's not just bookstore giants. Look at the electronic, department, clothing, and other retail giants that have shut down over the last few years. It's an ominous sign for shoppers and for those looking for employment.


  14. I will miss Borders, which was a much better store than our local Barnes and Noble. I could spend (and have) hours there.

    So sad.....

    And beyond a good store closing, jobs and all the associated effects is not good.

    And now what Amazon is fighting CA on the sales tax issues is another insane thing.


  15. Arlee, this makes me so sad. You have captured how I feel about the closing of Borders. It feels like a piece of my history is dissipating. You've conveyed so very much in 200 words.

  16. Both our Walden and our Borders were already gone (earlier closures). Sigh.

    (Great piece.)

  17. It so sad when a bookstore closes! This weekend is the last for our Borders.

    You did a great job with this flash fiction piece and using a current topic we can all relate to.

  18. It's good to know I'm not the only one who waited until the last minute!

    What an appropriate and timely piece!

    Our town has never had a large chain bookstore. We have a fabulous used bookstore downtown. I can only hope we never lose it, but just in case I try to visit as often as I can.

  19. I am heartbroken by the closure of our Borders! I loved going there to write as well as perusing the shelves. I never came out of there without a book under my arm. You have captured my sadness in this piece.

  20. Sig -- Borders was a nice store and very convenient for me since I had one that I could walk to. I'm of mixed feelings about the Amazon vs. CA tax issue. It is a mess though.

    Susan -- Many businesses have been and are being relegated into the annals of history in recent years. Times are changing for sure. Thanks for the compliment.

    LD -- Our book choices are becoming more limited as far as what we can browse off the shelves.

    Raelyn -- My visit to Borders yesterday cried out for this piece to be written.

    Brianna -- If there's not much competition locally then your used bookstore might have a chance of survival. These days business can be so unpredictable.

    Richard -- Thank you for saying so.

    Ann -- I think many of us are saddened, and even a bit afraid, about the closing of bookstores like Borders. If the giants can't make it, then the little guys have a real challenge ahead of them.


  21. I've read quite a few sad or moving flash fiction pieces but this one was the first to actually make me well up! And our town doesn't even have a Borders.(I'd just die if our Hastings closed!)Of course your's isn't fiction...
    Anyway, well done! :)

  22. Awwww, Borders! Haha, it's kind of funny how sad that made me. Good job on the challenge.

  23. It's so sad about Borders. There aren't any around here (just a B&N and a small independent bookstore--which is nice) but we used to visit one every week. I loved the place.

  24. I hate that all of the book stores are closing. Nicely described. Mine is #72

  25. Never a good thing to see a business close, but that's the reality of what's happening around us - and you used both prompts. :)

  26. We got a bunch of kids stuff at really great prices! Sad to see them go. I did a lot of book signings there. Sigh.

  27. This is just so sad I haven't even been able to think about it.

  28. Amanda -- It's my fictional account based on a true story--very true.

    Ru-- The true story has made a lot of us sad.

    becca -- Thank you kindly.

    Golden Eagle -- Hopefully some bookstores will continue to remain for us to visit.

    bridget -- The closings are a bad omen for writers and readers alike.

    J.L. -- It's disturbing to see how many businesses are closing or just doing poorly.

    Stephen Tremp -- Authors will have to find new venues for books signings. Borders was ideal.

    Donna -- Thank you.


  29. Karen -- I can't help but think about it since there are (or were) several around where I live. That, and the fact that Borders keeps sending me email announcements about the price slashes.


  30. That's sad. Though I've never been to a Borders bookstore. Which is sad, too, I guess.

  31. Wow, did Borders go out in the states. I know they filed for receivership here (New Zealand), but the doors are still open.

  32. It is sad that Borders closed. Now it's almost like a special outing to actually find a bookstore. Julie

  33. I like your story, Lee.

    I hope I won't be stoned, but I've only visited a Borders once. I shope at B & N and used book stores.

  34. Hi, Lee,

    Nicely written. I felt as if I was there. I could never bring myself to go to the few remaining borders that had finally closed in my area. TOO SAD.

    When I moved into my neighborhood seven years ago, Borders, Barnes and Nobel, Blockbuster, and Pier one were all in walking distance, only a few blocks away from my condo.

    Now they are all gone and it saddens me to now end. It doesn't feel like home anymore. I miss spending countless hour browsing through the many exciting books on display.

    Now I have to travel over a mile to get to the Barnes and Noble.... it's just not the same.

  35. No, sir, I haven't gone to a Borders store. We don't have one in Longview and I guess the closest one might be in Vancouver or Portland.

    The books I buy I have found to be cheap and great bargains on

  36. I will be honest I couldnt go to my local Borders sale it was just too sad. I hate the idea that there will be no more Borders. That used to be one of my absolute favorite stores.

  37. StoryT-- Borders was a pretty good book store as far as the big chains go.

    Rhonda -- I don't know how the two are connected, but it seems like if Borders went under here the NZ stores would follow. But I don't know how the company is structured. I didn't even know they had stores overseas.

    Julie -- I don't know where the nearest book stores to me will be now. And if there are any they will probably be Spanish.

    Teresa -- I can remember the days when I used to be stoned and like to spend times in bookstores. Oh, I guess you weren't talking about that. I frequented Borders only because the locations were nearby.

    Michael -- It's nice when you can just walk to things. I can spend hours looking through bookstores. Then, I recall the days of spending hours in record stores--those times are gone I guess.

    Gregg -- You've mentioned that website before and things like that are the future come now I guess. I don't buy many books at list price--they can be so expensive.

    LaVie-- It's sad, but it's still a bargain. I will go right up to the end and probably score a few very inexpensive books.


  38. There isn't a Borders near me, so I haven't gone. It's sad when bookstores close. I love them. =D

  39. So sad about Borders closing. I did get some books and toys, but I felt guilty, like a vulture.

  40. Gosh this makes me sad. I don't have a Borders near enough to take advantage of the sale. Hate when any book store closes!

  41. Nicely done. There's such a sadness in the closing of a bookstore. Like an old friend moving away.

  42. A fitting tribute, Lee. I liked it quite a bit. I'm not participating in this challenge but I think I'll pop on over to Racheal's website and click the 'like' button for your contribution.

  43. RaShelle -- Pretty soon I guess there won't be a Borders near any of us.

    Lydia-- I guess that vulture aspect was kind of present, but I can't feel guilty over getting some bargains. Besides the left over books will probably just end up at Dollar Tree or somewhere like that and still get sold cheap.

    Liza -- I hate seeing a lot of the stores closing that have gone under.

    Sand & Snow -- It is sad. The employees were in good spirits as I overheard them talking about their future job situations. Tough times for a lot of us.

    Suze -- Well thank you and I would appreciate that.


  44. Talk about fiction that's so true it hurts. Our town lost its library branch last month, and my husband and I are still shaking our heads in sorrow.

  45. A great post Lee !
    I'm from the other side of the globe , and haven't been to a Borders store , but I can feel the sense of loss which is evident amongst the bloggers , who write about this in such a mournful manner .
    Great tribute to Borders - like an online obituary of sorts !
    My entry at no.#59

  46. Sad to say, but I haven't been to a Borders store. But, it's too bad when these bookstores have to close up shop.

  47. First, I commend you for your dedication to the craft of writing. You've been the best at accepting challenges and motivating others to do the same. I'm sure you've all benefited from doing so.

    Borders? It was so much competition where I live. I'm not surprised at its demise. I didn't get to the clearance sales, intentionally, because I have a house full of books already and I know that I wouldn't have been able to control myself.

    Instead, I satisfy my book fetish at yard sales and at the numerous library sales. A dollar here, a quarter there...not a big waste if I never read the book or listen to the book on CD.

    But, I certainly understand the thrill of a nice, new book of ones desire at a clearance sale. :)

  48. Really sad to see them go. No I haven't been down there, can hardly bring myself to do it. :(

  49. Michelle -- Libraries are hurting these days and are among the first government funded things to be cut. If they are all ever gone then we are really in trouble.

    Mish -- I know that I'm am not alone in lamenting the loss of Borders.

    Donna -- The problem is that these closings may not stop at Borders. Bookstores are facing some serious problems.

    Anita -- Thank you for your kind words. I didn't do much shopping at Borders because new books can be so expensive. But when you can get decent new books at bargain prices I take advantage if I see something that interests me.

    Marvin -- I've only gone because they were so close and so convenient. I was in one yesterday and overheard a customer telling a clerk that she'd been going to all the locations to find books that she liked. She had an armload of books and said that it was modest compared to what she had purchased elsewhere. Now, that's dedication to finding bargains. I don't go to that extreme.


  50. Hi there, I'm stopping by on the Campaign trail :)

    Ah, Borders, so sad . . .

    Yes, I did go take advantage of the clearance sales, but sadly even the clearance prices weren't that great, so I had to forgo several things I wanted.

    A friend of mine made an excellent buy, though!

    She bought the category sign from the writing section.

    I wish I had thought of it.

  51. Love your entry. It's so apt too.
    I recently picked up a whole bunch of books for 80% off. Crazy prices. Oddly enough the prices felt so tragic too.

  52. Man, the closing of Borders REALLY made me sad....
    I remember as a high school student, hanging out there for hours, reading magazines, books, and drinking coffee.

    This new economy sucks.

  53. This makes me so sad! I hate that these stores are closing.
    Blessings, Joanne

  54. Late visit to your entry, Lee. It is a poignant piece..thanks for sharing!

  55. BlackandDark-- Getting good prices was/is about timing. When the first round of stores closed, I got some fair deals on books I really wanted, but on the last day everything was 4 for $5 and that is pretty good. Even at 60-80% off it can add up to more than I'm willing to pay.

    Lynda-- The prices are sad in one sense, but I was happy to get my bargains. If it hadn't been me, someone would have taken advantage of it.

    Andrew -- This new economy is sucking more every day--especially when you don't have a job.

    Joanne -- I hate to think what store closings will come next.

    Damyanti -- Thanks for stopping by. See you on this blog in a few hours.


  56. Hi Arlee,
    We don't have a Borders here but I enjoyed your story. I often call my husband a "Book Whore", just in fun of coarse but he would have liked your story to be a reality here!!
    I apologize for not being around as much. Since my surgery I have been sleeping a lot! 10 to 12 hours a day! Exercising in between. I've been trying to keep up with blogs in the middle of the night when I wake for about an hour. I suppose things will get back to normal soon enough. I can't complain with the speed of my healing!
    Good luck with your story, your always a winner to me. Love Di ♥

  57. That was surprisingly moving. Who would have thought a short story about a closing bookstore could be so heart wrenching. You will be missed, Borders.

    Great job, Arlee! :)

  58. Lee, well done! The line about the empty party rooms is so true.

    It was hard to see the local Borders go. I took advantage of the sales but with a heavy heart. I'm very fortunate to have a B&N and a Books-A-Million nearby but all of the stories have changed - and not always for the better.

  59. I think it's wonderful how you made it current, and so we could relate. Very sad.

  60. I really felt as though I were there. How wonderful to use the prompts to write about something real and current. Good job!

    Fellow group 18 Campaigner, Crystal

  61. Diana --I totally understand the recuperation process you are dealing with. I am please that you made time for my blog entry. Wishing you a rapid recovery.

    David -- Thank you! The closing of a loved business establishment is a loss like a death in many ways.

    Madeline -- Right now we don't have any stores that are strictly bookstores in a several mile radius from where I am. That's kind of bad considering that I am in such a major metropolitan area.

    Shannon -- I like to stick with current topics.

    Crystal -- Thanks for stopping by. I will check out your blog as well.


  62. When Borders closed in the UK around 3 years ago, I was devastated!It was a real shock.

    As a writer and a reader it was somewhere to meet up, and share passions for the written word.

    It also had a Starbucks, so ticked all the boxes.

    I can identify with this piece.


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