Shoppers at the Stony Brook Borders on Tuesday said the death of the bookstore chain is a big blow to the area, brought on by the spread of digital readers and e-books.
"It’s a tragedy. Every time you lose a bookstore it's pretty significant," said customer Pat Stollmeyer. "People are losing work. You won't have a place to go in and browse books. It's inevitable with e-books, but I like to hold a physical book."
The bankrupt big-box chain announced Monday it will liquidate its franchise to pay off creditors, closing 399 stores across the nation including its Stony Brook location. A last-minute bid to save the company failed after investors refused to approve an offer to buy the chain. The stores could close as early as Friday.
"I'm using my Borders card today before it's worthless," said Stony Brook resident Mary Shaddox as she entered the store Tuesday.
Shaddox admitted she's made the transition to primarily reading e-books, which she buys online. However, she browses at Borders to find picture and story books to share with her classes as a teacher at Patchogue Emmanuel Lutheran School.
"Children who are learning to read have a relationship with books," she said. "I’ve seen kids knock each other over to be the first to see a new book."
Like Shaddox, Scott Ringfield of St. James said he's starting to buy more books and e-books online, but still he heads to Borders to browse computers books.
"It's nice to bring a laptop into the field and be able to pull up an e-book for reference," Ringfield said.
Yet, he admitted he will miss the sense of community at Borders.
"I've a very convenient store and it's got free WiFi," Ringfield said.
That sense of community, free WiFi and its café were the location's biggest assets during the recession, according to some customers.
"Over the few years, during times of financial hardship, I would seek people go in, open a book and read. It’s a place of comfort," Stollmeyer said.
In addition to the Internet, many shoppers said they will turn to the nearby Barnes & Noble in the Smith Haven Mall plaza when they have the urge to browse books.
Borders fans, however, will find no sympathy across the street.
Many Barnes and Nobles shoppers told Patch on Tuesday that they didn't care about Borders closing because they were already shopping at the better store.