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Y'know, I worked at Borders for almost five years. In Michigan and in California and I have to say that they have earned this bankruptcy with all their hard work. In the four years as an assistant manager I can safely say that Borders engaged in a race to the bottom that was astounding in its shortsightedness, its fickleness, and its destructive power. Like a rampaging, half-blind, firebreathing toddler.
Every three months saw a new initiative become the most important thing ever while at the same time trimming payroll, trimming benefits, and refusing to pay a few more vendors. And every new program or system would directly contradict the previous one. It was amazing. Working there often felt like one huge joke.
In my store, whenever an especially ridiculous new idea was handed down from Binc (the nickname for the corporate HQ) we'd shake our heads and say, "It's good that Binc did this." As if Binc was some omnipotent child who could send us to the cornfield if we didn't smile and nod.
It was all about short term sales and the daily stock price, which we were sent in email every morning, until it got too low and corporate said technical difficulties prevented them from sending it. They'd add in plushies, gift bags, e-readers and as many non-book items as possible, and then cut our stock in the next quarter.
Every six months saw all the management jobs get shuffled around, both in the stores and at corporate. It was a perfect example of no one being in their job long enough to suffer the consequences of their bad ideas.
And they were obsessed with how much Barnes and Noble spent on payroll, and were always trying to cut down to their level, despite the fact that our inventory systems worked in completely different ways and so shelving books was more difficult at Borders. "Do More With Less," was the perpetual battle cry. My store pulled in over a million a year in profit, and we still couldn't keep ourselves staffed.
So yeah, they've earned this bankruptcy.
- University of MichiganCreative Writing
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