Jag Venugopal's Blog

July 25, 2011

Observations At A Border’s Store Under Liquidation

Filed under: Digital Living — Jag @ 7:12 am

This past weekend, the family went to Borders to see if there were any book bargains around. The place was packed to the gills with people everywhere. I’ve never seen such long lines at the checkout counters.

Any reasonable person would be forgiven for assuming that the going-out-of-business sale was particularly attractive, to force this many customers into the store. Said person would be wrong. Most titles in the store were discounted 20% off list price. Now, for most items (grocery, appliances, bed and bath, electronics, etc), 20% off list would be a decent bargain. But for books, 20% off list is too expensive. Borders, prior to bankruptcy, would routinely discount all purchases beween 20%-40%. Therefore the shoppers who mobbed the store were paying higher prices than usual.

What likely happened is that a large number of people read about the liquidation. These people had likely never shopped for books recently, and when they saw the 20% off signs, decided they were getting a great bargain.

We also noticed a lot of misfiled books. For example, books on business in the sports section, etc. That’s another time worn tactic I first learned about from Filene’s ‘automatic markdown’ basement shoppers. Basically, if you really like a book, but want it cheaper than the 20% off currently being offered, then hide the book in a totally unrelated section and hope it stays unbought until the prices come down to your liking.

My threshold for vulture sales is at 50%. The logic is that most books are discounted 30-40% on Amazon. If I got a book for half-off, I’d be getting a small bargain at Borders compared to what I could get it for at Amazon after taking the additional sales tax into account.

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