Arts/Culture
12:28 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Borders No. 1, where it all began in Ann Arbor

Borders Books started in Ann Arbor as a small independent book store.

Tom and Louis Borders opened it in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971.

The first Borders bookstore was located at 209 State Street, north of the State Theater.

Eve Silberman was a graduate student in Ann Arbor when she got a job at the very first Borders Bookstore owned by the Borders brothers.

The company recently declared bankruptcy.

Silberman sat down to talk with public radio host Dick Gordon of The Story.

Silberman talked with Gordon about her memories of working at the first Borders bookstore (she described herself as "not a very good worker").

She recalled several things about the first Borders Bookstore:

  • Joe Gable was the "shaper and caretaker" of the store (many thought Gable was a Borders).
  • Gable saw the store as a "cathedral of books" and the workers were the "worshippers."
  • Classical music played in the store.
  • Potential employees had to take a test to get a job at the store.
  • The store carried unique titles.
  • The store's cash register was complex at the time.

Host Dick Gordon asked Silberman about the sense in Ann Arbor about the misfortunes of Borders.

Silberman said that people in town do not like hearing the news, but many have complained about how Borders deteriorated over the years:

"There is a fascination with the store still, and a sadness. But at the same time what we are mourning is not the death of the independent store that we all took such pride in, but a chain that seemed to have lost its way."

If you have memories of the first Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor, please share them below in our comments section.

You can listen to the entire interview here (or you can download it):

 

The Rise and Fall (and Rebirth?) of Borders Group on Dipity.