Borders Group said Friday it will close its Mill Avenue store in downtown Tempe, probably in late January, because sales have not met expectations.
“It’s a sales-driven decision,” said Borders spokeswoman Bonnie Schmick.
Thirty-nine employees will be affected by the closing, she said. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company will make “every effort” to place them at other Borders and Waldenbooks stores in the Phoenix area, she said.
The company operates 11 other stores in the Valley, three of them Waldenbooks and the remainder Borders superstores, she said. Also the company operates a small outlet at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The store faced competition from a new Barnes and Noble bookstore that opened at the Tempe Marketplace center at McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.
But Schmick didn’t offer reasons why the Mill Avenue store, which is located in the Brickyard complex, was not able to attract sufficient customers. She said the location near Arizona State University should have helped the store, adding that other Borders stores near universities have fared well.
“We started with our first store near the University of Michigan, and our other stores in university towns like Columbus, Ohio and Madison, Wis. have done well,” she said.
The closing of the store will present a “slightly challenging” situation for the Mill Avenue retail district, said Nancy Hormann, president of the Downtown Tempe Community, but he added it’s also an opportunity because “it’s a fabulous location. If it were not for the economy, it would be filled in a day. We just have to look at it as an opportunity to bring something new and vital to Mill Avenue.”
She said she would like to see a replacement store that is “unique and destination oriented.”
Hormann added that “the one thing that people have to understand is that it’s not a Mill Avenue thing that Borders is closing. Borders is closing stores nationwide. Unfortunately, we were one of the victims of that. We are still a very vital location.”
Tribune writer Dave Woodfill contributed to this report.