Less than a year after Borders Group was forced to close its network of nearly 400 bookstores and liquidate the company, many of those stores are being reborn with other uses.
In the South Sound, four of seven former Borders locations ranging from Tacoma to Southcenter, are finding new uses.
That’s a pattern that has proven true across the country as landlords work to fill the huge gaps in their malls and lifestyle centers with new merchants.
“Borders had always done a good job of finding those strong demographic, mature trade areas, and all those things are important to other retailers,” Retail Connection co-founder and president Alan Shor told the Dallas Morning News. “Some Borders had a second level, and that creates a problem.”
In Tacoma, that second level wasn’t an obstacle for the new tenant, Ashley HomeStores. Construction crews Wednesday were working on the store’s exterior installing a faux home-like roofline where the furniture store sign will be hung.
The Ashley franchisee, Gary Seals, a Texas entrepreneur, said he plans to open the Tacoma store on South 38th Street at the north entrance to the Tacoma Mall on June 29.
The new store will employ some 50 workers.
In Gig Harbor, the former Borders store, once an anchor tenant at the Uptown Gig Harbor lifestyle shopping center on Point Fosdick Drive Northwest, the store will be converted to a Marshalls.
Construction on modifications has already begun at the store with an opening scheduled for this fall.
Marshalls sells women’s, men’s and children’s clothing. The chain operates more than 750 stores nationwide.
At Sea-Tac Airport, where Borders occupied a space between the Central Terminal and the B Concourse, the spot has been occupied by a Hudson’s Marketplace since last December.
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the airport tried to interest local merchants in the space, but ended up leasing to Hudson’s, a nationwide chain with operations in dozens of airports.
Hudson’s sells books, electronic gadget and convenience items in the store. The Marketplace concept is different from the usual newstands that the chain operates in airports throughout the country.
At Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, the second floor site of the former Borders is occupied an unconventional tenant for a shopping center.
The Border’s space is now home to Hope of the City Church, which conducts regular religious services in the space.
Other South Sound former Border locations are still for lease. Those include the former bookstore near a main entrance to the Commons shopping center in Federal Way, the bookstore space on Puyallup’s South Hill and the former Borders in Olympia.
Across the country, the ex-bookstore spaces are finding a variety of new tenants.
A store on the campus of the University of Chicago was leased by a local apparel and shoe store. Walgreen is taking over half a former store near Chicago, the Dallas Morning News reported.
North Carolina-based upscale grocer Fresh Market, is opening in a Borders space in New Orleans’ Garden District and one in Tulsa, Okla., said the newspaper.
Whole Foods is opening in a Borders space only three miles from the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. That Whole Foods will be the first in that part of Indiana.