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Borders shut down spells opportunity for book lovers

By Tom Flanigan


Tallahassee, FL – Tallahassee's Borders Book Store will close its doors for the last time within weeks. Now Tom Flanigan reports a small but enthusiastic group hopes to open a book store and meeting place, either at the old Borders location or someplace else.

Traci Strohman moved from Central Florida to be part of the team that opened the Tallahassee Borders Books several years ago. She wasn't totally surprised by the chain's demise.

"It made me saddest for the people who were involved. The original Borders was founded by Tom and Louis Borders - it's actually a last name - and they prided themselves very much on being very local. And you know the typical corporate thing happened. It just got too big for itself."

And she thinks the local store was at its best and most popular before the corporate expansion and cost-cutting took hold.

"I think it was as a community center that Borders thrived the most. And when there was some live music, when there was a great meeting place for people, where families could come and children could play in the fountain and parents felt safe about them being there, I think that made a really big difference. Anybody was welcome."

Strohman was among those who met a few evenings ago to figure out what could take the place of the soon-to-be-closed Borders Books. There have been rumors that either Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million might take over the property at the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Magnolia. Group Chair Bettina Krone says that's something the group needs to find out for sure.

"We distributed lots of tasks for what we can do to find out what's going on with the building, with plans that might be floating around, and then we will just share our thoughts through e-mail and go from there."

The Leon County Tax Assessor values the building at nearly two-million dollars. But Krone thinks maybe a coalition of community groups might be able to find the financing somehow. She says a lot of different things could fit in that twenty-five thousand square foot space.

"Of course it would still be centered around books, magazines and also a cafe or restaurant with a lunch option or something. But we have been talking about having performances, having a meeting space, having an area for an adoption booth for animals from the Humane Society and/or the animal shelter and of course other groups in town."

And, if the Borders building is beyond reach, there could be other more affordable locations around town. Former Borders employee Traci Strohman says it's carrying on the spirit of the store that's the goal.

"I think we need to put original ideas out there and get more people involved, because I think it's something we're really missing and were blessed to have it."

The group is setting up a Facebook page under the name "Beyond Borders Project" so others in the community can share their thoughts and get involved.