Expected closure of Borders stores prompts gift card questions

Ben Habluczel
Ben Habluczel
Stephany Sofos
Stephany Sofos
Ginny Henderson
Ginny Henderson

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Book lovers are disappointed by the expected closure of Borders stores nationwide. Six stores in Hawaii will be among the nearly 400 locations that the company plans to shut down.

Ben Habluczel browses in the Borders store in Ward Centre a couple of times a week. Now he'll have to find a new stop during his walks from Waikiki.

"A little bit sad, but a business is a business. I'm sure they tried everything they could to get it going, and it just didn't make it," said Habluczel.

The retail chain is planning to seek approval from a bankruptcy court on Thursday to sell off its remaining assets.

The company's president said the tough economy, rapidly changing book industry, and eReader revolution led to the decision.

"People are looking at going and buying books into their Kindle, into their iPad, reading it, discarding it. You can have 3,500 books in your iPad," said retail analyst Stephany Sofos.

Under the proposal, the liquidation is expected to start for some stores as soon as Friday. The company could wrap up the process by late September.

The move will open up retail spaces in Ward Centre, Windward Mall, Royal Hawaiian Center, Pearlridge, Town Center of Mililani and Queen Kaahumanu Center.

Sofos said losing an anchor tenant in a 30,000 square foot space could hurt smaller businesses in Ward Centre.

"I think it will for the short term because once they close there's nothing there until they get something in, but it's an opportunity for the landlord to be creative now," Sofos said.

"I thought it was too bad. It's sad to see the bookstores go," said Moiliili resident Ginny Henderson.

Workers told Hawaii News Now that Borders is still honoring gift cards. The state's gift card law was changed last July to extend or clarify time limits, but since the bankruptcy proceedings complicate the matter, the Office of Consumer Protection is urging shoppers to use their gift cards as soon as possible.

"Some people have called and asked if they're going out of business on Friday. I don't think that's likely. They're going to have to liquidate it under the liquidation order, but on the other hand don't be tardy," said executive director Bruce Kim.

"I do have gift cards and I'd hate to have the people give me the gift cards and not use them," said Henderson. "I'm not taking any chances."

If you have problems redeeming the gift cards, can call the Office of Consumer Protection at 586-2636.

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