Local bookstores express concern

By Tyler Vincent

With the opening of the new Borders Books and Music in Northland Plaza, two area stores, Junction Book Store and Record Revolution, may see a loss in revenues.

“I’m not happy about it,” said Mark Cerny, who has been the owner of Record Revolution, 817 W. Lincoln Highway, since it opened 29 years ago. “We all knew it was coming. I’m really surprised they are going with that store in that shopping center and committing all the money and repair to it.”

Cerny added that he and his business, which holds about 10,000 different CD titles, would have to wait and see how much of an impact Borders may have on business.

“Christmas will be a good barometer,” he said. “It’s important to note that bigger is not better.”

David Systma, the owner of the Junction Book Store, 822 W. Lincoln Highway said that although this is Borders’ opening, this is not an especially important weekend.

“We’re not planning on doing anything different,” said Systma. “We’ve been here since 1968 and I certainly think that we have a better deal. Chain stores’ success depends on the stock market. Independent stores depend solely on sales. I have no money coming in from the stock market.”

He added that he would not be able to determine how big of an impact Borders may make for about six months. He added that all told, the Junction has more square feet devoted to books than the new Borders store will.

“We have about 15,000 sq. ft.” Systma said. “About a fourth of their store is devoted to the cafe.”

Systma has been one of the most vocal critics of the new store. A popular T-shirt being sold at the Junction has the bookstore’s logo and the words, “Friends don’t let friends buy books from chain book stores.”

“I have one of those T-shirts,” said John Podulka, the general manager of the new Borders. “They (the Junction) have a wonderful store. It’s not surprising they are less than thrilled about the competition. People have put years of their life into the Junction. It would be very sad if it closed.”

Podulka added that a similar occurrence happened when Borders placed one of its stores on Randall Road in Geneva. Townhouse Books, a store in nearby St. Charles expressed concerned that the presence of Borders would dramatically impact their business.

“They are still open,” he said.

Heidi Schmidt, the store manager at Townhouse Books who was present for the opening of the Borders in Geneva, said that initially, the opening of Borders affected their business.

“We’re 2,500 sq. ft. to their 25,000,” she said. “Certainly we weren’t thinking that we were going to disappear. We’ve been here since 1974.”

She added that at first the store was hit severely when Borders opened up, but after that, business slowly built back up as people were becoming disillusioned as the novelty of the new store wore off.

Schmidt said that the some of the reasons the store remained opened with Borders in the area was customer service, and the store’s efficiency in special ordering books.

“The loss of small bookstores in America has certainly gotten the attention of the media and people’s attention,” Schmidt said. “People realize that if they don’t support their small bookstores, they will go away.”