As Borders took steps toward closing its stores Monday, local experts weighed in on what the loss could mean for Valley shopping centers.
The bankrupt Ann Arbor, Mich.- based chain is expected to ask for court approval Thursday to sell itself to liquidators after a private-equity firm's bid to buy the company fell apart.
It will be easier for River Park to recover from the loss of such a big tenant than the other Borders locations, retail brokers said. In addition to the Fresno store, Visalia has a Borders in Sequoia Mall and Hanford Mall has a smaller Borders Express store.
The Borders Express in Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis closed more than a year ago.
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River Park developer Ed Kashian said he doesn't think the River Park Borders will close. Just because the bid was rejected doesn't mean they'll liquidate all the stores, he said. "I don't think it will happen ever," he said. "I think they're going to keep about half or 60% of their stores. Ours is one of the ones they want to keep very badly."
The River Park Borders makes money, said Kashian, who added that he believes there is a market for both ebooks and traditional books.
If it did close, it would be an easy building to fill with a new tenant, said Lewis Smith, a retail broker with Retail California.
"I think the Fresno location would have a lot of interest should Borders lose that location," he said.
The number of people who visit the busy shopping center, the reputable neighboring stores and the area's demographics mean the space wouldn't stay empty for long, he said.
The spaces in Visalia and Hanford would be harder to fill because the locations aren't as strong as River Park, he said.
The loss of the Visalia Borders would be devastating to the remaining businesses in Sequoia Mall, said Doug Burr, a retail broker with Burr Commercial Real Estate. "Borders is a big draw," he said.
Although the mall has a movie theater, the Hobby Lobby that opened in December and Sears, the mall is about 50% vacant, he said.
And with retailers still suffering from the economic downturn, it could sit empty for a while, he said.
"There's a lot of vacant space on Mooney Boulevard right now. It would be just one other space to fill," he said.