Goodbye Waldenbooks

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feeling extremely nostalgic as the closing of my bookstore looms near on Monday.  Yes my bookstore.  I know, I know, it's been almost 4 years since I last worked there.  But the Beaver Valley Mall Waldenbooks will always be my bookstore.  Even now, I still find myself referring to it as Waldenbooks, and I think we did the conversion in 2005. 

I grew up in Waldenbooks.  I found an old kids club card that I had from like 1988 I think.  My parents always stressed reading to me, I grew up reading books, every book I could get my hands on.  When I got my first job in the mall, at Sears, I would spend my lunch breaks in the bookstore.  You'd find me sitting on the floor in the romance section finding at least 2 or 3 books to buy.  And two days later I would be right back there because I had already finished them.  I met some of my best friends in that bookstore:  Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, the Pevensie siblings, Nancy Drew, 4 Hobbits, the list could go on and on.  So much of my life was spent in that bookstore.

When I left my job at Sears and was looking for another one, I was thrilled when Cindy offered me a position at Waldenbooks.  It was my dream job.  Of course at times I think I gave my entire paycheck right back to the company, even after my discount!  I got to see all the books as they came in, I had a huge bookshelf to organize and stock.  I could order in the books that I wanted to sell.  In short, it was heaven for me.  Throughout college I worked at the store, coming home on weekends for some shifts and over the summer holidays.  I loved it.  And then after graduation, I was promoted to keyholder and then assistant manager.  Not only could I keep the job I loved but I was getting the management experience that I needed for my career.

Even after leaving my job at the store, I still spent a LOT of time there.  Working at the store for 6 years, I formed close relationships with all my coworkers.  It wasn't easy to not see them everyday.  So I would still stop in to say hi, usually on the weekends.  And I would usually end up staying for a while, even helping customers.  Not only was it my coworkers who I missed but also the customers.  As the only bookstore in Beaver County we had a lot of regulars.  There was the little old lady who came in every month to buy the christian serial romance novels, I think she was the only reason we kept getting those in stock.  There was the somewhat strange manga couple with the super adorable little baby.  I even missed Jerry, who was my very first experience with a persistent creeper.  That store was home for me. 

Monday night it will be closing it's doors for good.  I've known for a while that Borders was in trouble.  Discontinuing the Preferred Reader card and moving to the free Borders Rewards program, that was a bad move.  You're offering a discount without getting any kind of compensation in return.  Barnes and Noble charges $25 a year for their card and they are still going strong.  That wasn't the only problem.  The company went through several management changes and not one of them did much good.  And that was all felt at the store level.  It was sad to go into my store and see the shelves half empty because the individual store were not allowed to order the stock they knew would sell.  But even knowing how much trouble the company was in, I still held out hope that Borders would somehow ride above it and survive.  Then in July the final blow came.  It was official.  Borders was closing for good.  The stores were scheduled for liquidation, and then a piece of my history will be gone.  I won't lie, I cried when I first heard the news. 

Goodbye Waldenbooks, I know I for one will miss your presence in Beaver County.  At least I have some great memories.