Thursday, September 8, 2011

Liquidation Diary: Thanks Are In Order

Mindy Auerbach. Randy Harrison. Joe Tosney. Suzanne Strunk. Gina Ricker. Steve Bucklin. Diana Villacana. Cynthia Latish. Nicole Pinsky. Nanette Mathieu. Holly Linden. Brian Stitt.

My Borders bosses. All of them. Most were good people. Some were great people. A couple were extraordinary. One was a good person and a bad boss and one--but only one--was both a bad person and a bad boss. Not a bad ratio for a career spanning seventeen years.

Mindy hired me for my first gig with Borders. She interviewed me in February of 1994 at the job fair she and her management team held for the new store opening in Mesa, Arizona. I was hired as a full-time employee. Eighty-five to ninety percent of Borders' staff was full-time in those days, and one hundred percent had a demonstrated love for and knowledge of books. Mindy certainly loved books (she also loved dogs; I remember her beautiful all-white shepherd rescue, Jessie). She promoted me more than once, and then helped me get promoted right out of her store, in the process placing me very firmly on the road to managing my own store. I'll always be grateful to her for that. Thanks, Mindy.

I met Joe Tosney for the first time on the island of Kuaui. I'd gone there to open a new Borders; Joe was over from Oahu, where he was the General Manager of the first Borders off the mainland. He was in his element, holding court at the dinner table, drinking and telling stories (Joe is a raconteur of exceptional talent). He was promoted soon after that dinner, and would be my boss--sometimes once or twice removed, more than once as a direct report, for the better part of the next dozen or so years. Joe was sometimes difficult but always interesting to work for. He was also quintessentially Borders, a lawyer who left the law to pursue a passion, starting out as an Assistant Manager at the Borders in Boston, ending as a Regional Director. Thanks, Joe.

Steve Bucklin and I were peers first. We worked together as Assistant Managers at the store in Mission Viejo (what a great store that was), swore a lot, and talked books constantly. Steve got promoted and moved far away to Seattle, but then---lucky me!--he came back to my store, and became my boss. (Oh, and he met [at Borders] and married Katie in between, as bookish a gal as they come.) Steve ran the happiest store I ever worked at. When I became a GM Steve was my most important touchstone. Thanks, Steve.

I have worked for Gina in one capacity or another pretty much forever. Never have I met anyone as capable of simultaneously controlling both the details and the big picture as Gina is. Losing sight of the forest for the trees? I don't think so. Many's the time when Gina was my DM that she'd come into my store and suggest moving a table or fixture, and I'd protest on principal. Yeah, I don't know why I felt I needed to do that, but she was always right. Not only that, but she's cheerful and optimistic, and she was kind enough to hire me back as a bookseller when I'd had difficulty finding work after leaving Borders in a pique (after having worked for that one boss who was just plain bad). I couldn't even begin to add up the things I learned from Gina, so I'll just say thanks, Gina. I can't think of anyone I'd rather be working for when the lights go out.


BlackRabbit said...

Does this mean Monday or Sunday? I would like to be there to close the store.

Rebecca Glenn said...

Ah, I thought that must be you Mr. Manders. Sunday is our last day of sales (or LDS, as they say). They don't give us an exact time of closing, but it will probably be early afternoon (and then the "in-buyer" will be in to buy up the remaining stock).

El Segundo's LDS is Saturday. Pete and I are in-buying over there.

At any rate, I'll be there Sunday, so you definitely should come in (and if you have time, do some serious hunting--you may find something good, and if you do it's likely to be 90% or more off...)