In the heyday of brick-and-mortar bookstores, when you could touch, feel, and even breathe in the aroma of the printed page, one name sat upon the highest shelf - Michigan's Borders Group, affectionately referred to as Borders Books. Grab your hot beverage as we take a look at the rise and eventual demise of this Michigan-born literary giant.

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Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1971 as an independent used bookstore, Tom and Louis Borders quickly grew the quaint corner shop into a franchise. Within just a few years of opening the original location, they'd opened 2 more Michigan stores, as well as in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Michigan's Borders Books Becomes Literary Powerhouse

Gone But Not Forgotten Michigan Born Businesses: Borders Books
Vampire Robot via YouTube / Canva
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By 1985, the Borders brothers were toying with the "super-store" concept, with plans to launch mega-bookstores designed to change the industry. The plan would prove successful and led the Michigan-born company to start exploring taking things public.

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In a plot twist worthy of Dickens, before the brothers could make a public offering on Wall Street, Kmart acquired Borders in 1992 with hopes of reviving the mall-based book chain Waldenbooks. However, Borders had other plans and spun off from Kmart in 1995, forming Borders Group. Thus, the literary sage continued, leaving its mark on Michigan and the world.

The Financial Downfall of Borders Books

Gone But Not Forgotten Michigan Born Businesses: Borders Books
Vampire Robot via YouTube / Canva
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As reading habits changed and digital downloads rose to prominence, Borders began to face serious financial challenges. By 2007, profits dwindled, and in a shocking turn of events, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Borders liquidated all 226 stores, closing the final chapter.

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Amidst the rubble, Barnes and Noble swooped in to acquire some of Borders' assets, including their trademark. Gone but not forgotten, Borders Books will forever hold prominent place on Michigan book lovers' shelves.

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Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer

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