Sunday, August 7, 2011

Liquidation Diary: Bitter Much?

Until the Thursday just past I was clinging to some vestige of pride in a job well done. Sure, it was pride in making my beloved store look like, well, what it is (that is to say, a store going out of business). Sure, I quickly learned to compromise my merchandising standards and abandon my customer service standards. But I did it, and so was able to still take some small pleasure in my work (because at least I was touching books every day). 

Well, that's all shot to shit now.

On Thursday the fixtures went on sale. We knew this was going to happen, of course. Since the close-out started the "EVERYTHING MUST GO DOWN TO THE BARE WALLS" signs have been among the dozens hanging from the ceiling, the walls, the windows. We'd been taking down interested customers' names and numbers from day one, and on Tuesday and Wednesday a couple of lucky booksellers--I mean Hilco employees--got to call every one of those customers and invite them to the "special fixture preview sale" on Thursday. But it's one thing to know it's going to happen and other thing to actually have people whipping out the measuring tape to determine whether my new cloth table will fit in their living room. 

And who'd'a thunk the fixture people would be even more predatory than all of the shoppers combined have been to date? They descended on the store en masse, expecting to purchase and take home whatever fixtures they'd expressed interest in. Well, they couldn't because there are still books on most of said fixtures. What else did they kvetch about? The prices (hey, they are what they are, baby; if you don't like it, try pricing similar fixtures new...I know, I have, and they ain't cheap). The fact that the names and numbers we took down were no guarantee that anyone would get a particular fixture, and sometimes somebody else was quicker. Who was particularly impacted by this fact? Anybody interested in any aspect of cafe furniture or equipment, as one person bought it all lock, stock, and barrel. "Why didn't you tell me when you called?" they whined, or sometimes railed. Because we're merely pawns in this game and we know nothing the liquidator doesn't tell us. That's why.

So, the fixture sale.

And then, on Saturday, I collaborated in the transformation of my store from a bookstore to a Big Lots-style crapfest. Hilco, it seems, intends wring every last cent from their investment in the dying Borders chain, and is bringing in pallet after pallet of "augmented" merchandise that they apparently picked up dirt cheap at auction to sell in our, I mean their store. What is this augmented merchandise? you ask, if you haven't been into a Borders in the last few days. Super Cozy Pet Beds. Corn Husk Purses. U-Build Monopoly, Connect 4, and Battleship. Five Piece Spa Sets. Cozy Slippers. Shower Wraps. Pom Pom Throws. Stainless Steel Water Bottles. Trapper Keepers. Magnetic Art Holders. And on and on and on. Tables and table of it. And you know what else? We've been told that there's a MILLION dollars more worth of this merchandise coming in. 

So don't take too much satisfaction in the fact that your Borders may be open until October or November. By the end of this month or the middle of September you'll be lucky to find even a copy of LaToya Jackson's dog of an autobiography among all the Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs and Vera Bradley Deluxe Photo Albums.


Anne Bennett said...

Sad, so sad. I'm in mourning

EnriqueFreeque said...

I really don't mean to laugh at what truly is a sad time of mourning, as perhaps your more sensitive, previous commenter commented, but when you say something like, "a Big Lots-style crapfest, how the hell am I not supposed to laugh? C/LOL: which means "Cringe/Laugh out Loud".

Also, I want my Monopoly!

Rebecca Glenn said...

Oh yes, get your Monopoly. But remember--it's "U-Build It" Monopoly. Don't know exactly what that means, but I'm pretty sure it means you can't play it right out of the box. I'd also hazard a guess that it's a flimsy piece of crap, but that's, you know, just me talking without knowing.



karen! said...

It does seem like your Borders is further along than ours is. It's strange. There's no cafe, the horrible signs are everywhere, and the staff look depressed, but otherwise it is very much like usual. Of course I've only been there as a shopper, not having to live through it all day.

My husband suffered through the Linens n Things liquidation. I showed him this post when it first showed up in my reader and he was first amazed at what the liquidator is doing with the non-Borders merchandise, but that quickly morphed to a "eh, typical liquidator craziness" stance.