Borders (BGP) may be the second-largest book retailer in the country, but its past and present performance has been chock full of declining revenue, multiple layoffs and desperate attempts to stay relevant in the marketplace. Now the company's trying another tactic to gain a much-needed sales boost: It's opening 25 "pop-up" shops meant to last only for the holiday season, the company announced Tuesday.
The 25 Borders Express stores are expected to officially open Oct. 25 -- just in time for Halloween -- and will operate through Jan. 31. The 2,500-square-foot stores will be housed in malls across the country, including Scottsdale Fashion Square in Arizona, The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey, and Atlanta's Perimeter Mall, and will carry new bestsellers, kids' books, holiday costumes and an assortment of e-readers and related accessories.
The news comes the same day as an announcement from Toys R Us -- now a Borders competitor, since the book retailer has made a bigger push on the toys and games front -- that it would hire 45,000 seasonal workers for 600 seasonal stores that will operate only for the holidays, the most they've hired in more than three years.
In a statement, Borders CEO Mike Edwards explained that the choice of where to open these seasonal shops was made easy as "the majority of these stores are located in malls where we had a presence at one time." It might not have made business sense for the company to keep stores open on a permanent basis -- especially when financial woes and prohibitive leases have caused the company to close its larger, standalone brick-and-mortar locations, dropping the number of operating stores to 679 from the 886 open a year ago.
But Edwards added that the company "can open a seasonal store and serve the holiday shopping needs of our customers. We're thrilled to once again be part of these communities." It remains to be seen, however, whether those communities will be as thrilled to have Borders stores back temporarily -- and whether parachuting into those malls for a brief period will give the retailer the shot in the arm it needs to start turning around its decidedly gloomy prospects.
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