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August 08, 2011

What Should Replace Borders on Church Street?

2011-08-08_14-45-38_750 Recently, during my three-hour lunch break, I popped into Borders on Church Street. Beckoned by the chintzy "Going Out of Business" liquidation signs hung in all the windows, and the promise of a good deal or two, I figured I'd see what was going on in the now-bankrupt behemoth bookseller.

The answer, it turns out, is a whole lot. The place was packed and there was a holiday-season-length line at the checkout.Who knew there were so many people with so much free time on their hands/money to burn on Nora Roberts books

Borders, a husk of its former self, now has all the charm of a Dollar Store, with garish signs in bold capital letters alerting bargain hunters to the fact that mysteries were 25 percent off, novels were 30 percent off and bodice-rippers were a whopping 40 percent off. It was my lucky day! I love any book that places the words "throbbing" and "member" side by side in a sentence.

In addition to picking up the large-print version of Sarah Palin's timeless classic Going Rogue, I also snagged a copy of Idiot's Guide to Print Journalism and a pop-up Rachael Ray cookbook. Yum-O! As I waited in line to pay for my moderately discounted tomes, I was struck by a couple things. One was the fact that all of us in there were like crows scavenging roadkill entrails. We were unabashedly sucking on the bones of this deceased beast and laughing as we carried armfuls of chick lit and Scandinavian thrillers to the register.

The second thing was the fact that Borders is an awfully huge space to fill. Twenty thousand square feet, to be exact. Which is about the same amount of square footage as the Kardashian klan has in its various kasas and kondos. So what could fill that space? And don't say Target, cuz I got news for you folks: It ain't gonna happen. You know what else isn't going to go in there? Good Vibes, Babeland or any other purveyor of sexual accoutrements. Trust me — I've inquired as to the possibility of setting up a New England outpost and it's not in the cards.

But really, what might be a good idea for that space, ignoring the fact that rent is most likely oppressive for anything other than a national retailer? If money wasn't an object, what would be a good addition to the top block of Church Street, which has come to be seen by some as Burlington's retail ghetto? Give us your most creative ideas, and if we get enough clever suggestions that aren't Target, we'll print them.     

I was thinking the same thing: businesses that are going out of business should have classier signage. Does Seven Days pay Lauren Ober? She's doing a middle school project, right?

Gesh guys, lighten up. What's wrong with having a little fun by posting our wishes for the space?

I'm wishing for Apple to open an Apple Store mostly so Burlington could have a bonafide Genius Bar for topnotch, no excuses, warranty service.

Something with a long slide into a ball pit.

In an ideal world? I'd love to see a tuition free education center that offers life skills and betterment courses such as smart finances,living frugally, nutrition, exercise, etc. Or courses to bolster a person's chances of obtaining employment. Something that would substantially give back to the community instead of a corporate business that doesn't give a damn about people in Burlington.

More parking.

How about some indoor ice climbing?

An enormous liquor store.

Powell's Used Books.

The Quartorium! Where quarters rules. Laundry, arcade, bocce and shuffle board courts, a bar, and a stage for live music!!


I agree with the suggestion of an Apple Store. Burlington is home to rich college brats and plenty of "hipsters" who are all longing for their personal mecca: THE APPLE STORE. The 200,000 square footage might be too much, but perhaps Burlington can be home to the first mega-awesome-super-sized Apple Store? HA.
Also, liquor store, brilliant idea. I would also like to throw out there: a fitness center. A new, very hip fitness center. With a health food cafe perhaps, and things for everyone, I think a 2-story fitness center would be lovely.

An Apple store would be cool, but it will never happen with Small Dogs already established in VT. Vermonters love their local shops too much to welcome an Apple Store. Therefore, H&M would be cool.

Maybe VSAC should take it over since they are consolidating on space and staff. If not I thought for a moment what Steve Mermelstein was saying about the Apple store. Then I remember how much I love Small Dog Electronics and would hate to see anything happen to them. My biggest hope? An extension of the YMCA, the Burlington location is outdated and an eye sore on the inside. I absolutely love the staff and feel of the Winooski Y and think something like that on church street would do great year round since mall parking is so close.

Trader Joe's! It will fit right in with Burlington. It won't take business away from the co-op as it is a totally different type of store. When I first heard of Borders closing, I emailed TJ's to suggest they open a store there. I say we all bombard their inboxes suggesting they take over the Borders space.

At least a chunk of it could go to a Trader Joes/parking for TJs (A gal can dream, right?) I can't imagine another store that would bring me to Church St. more often than I visit now, which I would say is about once every month or two. But you bring in a TJs and I'll be there once a week without fail. The store has a great philosophy, their employees are treated well and truly seem to have fun at work and they like working with local farms/companies/etc. The influx of customers from all different demographics should be enough of a benefit to outweigh Vermont's dislike of chain retailers, I would think.

H&M! H&M! H&M! Trader Joe's would be cool, too, I guess.

More parking? Are you kidding? More parking = more cars. Why not a real transit system, w/bike lockers, showers, carshare, etc.? Parking is a terrible idea. How about thinking of something new, rather than old ideas that don't work?

No Apple store, no fashion stores. There is Small Dog for Apple and plenty of fashion elsewhere. Something that benefits a lot of people should go in there.

Is the total space bigger than what the Y current has?

MR, I'm totally with you. Why not have the CCTA take over some of the space to use to expand their transit station already on Cherry St. People could REALLY use a warm place to wait for buses in the winter!

You want to see Church Street die a little more MR and Melissa? You wanna THINK about why Old Navy moved to Williston? Who the hell wants to park six blocks away and walk to and from Church street with shopping bags?

Your idea is great if there's a regular transit line near you, but for folks from Jericho, Bolton, Charlotte, we're SOL when it come to transit.

Judging from your other blog posts, Lauren, we're going to have to turn that building into one giant poutine bar.

Why did you censor (delete) my comment? What i was trying to write was that developers make development decisions, not writers or readers of this blog.

Eeylops Owl Emporium & Honeydukes Sweetshop

But seriously, I'm digging the YMCA idea.

Dwayne: Then you should have wrote that without calling the writers and readers of this blog dumbasses and nitwits.

A great big vegetarian emporium!

What happened to freedom of speech?

An education center for people to learn how to be more sustainable. With cooking classes, canning and preserving classes and animal processing classes.

1) What's wrong with Target? It beats Walmart. 2) An educational/lifeskills center is the best idea by far. Burlington doesn't need more high end, trendy retail, liquor stores or parking. Bradley's suggestion is by far the best.

I think you need to put up a poll on this. How else will whomever controls that space know who to give it to for free?

I love Small Dog Electronics. HOWEVER, they aren't a true APPLE store. Unlike an Apple Store, I can't make an appointment with the Genius Bar and have them diagnose and fix my computer right then and there. Small Dog has to send it out which tends to take a while. I, along with a great deal of Burlington college kids, cannot be without my Macbook for a week because there are papers to write, online quizzes to take and Twitters to update.
Perhaps the former Borders space could be divided, something on the top, an Apple Store on the bottom. Just an idea. I do believe the Burlington area certainly needs an Apple store complete with a Genius Bar, in the Borders space or not.
And Target? NO. Just NO. You want those ugly red shopping carts littering the Church Street Marketplace? Didn't think so.

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