Those hoping for a Border's store for Howard St. or any other Rogers Park location may now put that dream to rest, possibly for good.
I don't know how I missed the announcement in a March, 2007 issue of Crain's Chicago Business that the company is seeking to sublet four locations along the lakefront, but just read it in a recent post in Hyde Park Progress. Searching a little further, I found a few more articles, stating that the stores to be closed will be North & Clybourn; Diversey & Broadway; Broadway in Uptown; and Hyde Park.
Could it be that the failure to attract chains like Border's to Rogers Park may have a cause extraneous to the neighborhood and its well-publicized problems? My personal take is that there is a vast oversupply of redundant retail already, thanks to massive public subsidies for large-scale retail development, in combination with the growth of internet commerce. I have always wondered who supported all the repetitive shopping centers and strip malls, and it looks increasingly like the local taxpayers have been footing the bill for about 60% of the shopping malls and big-box power centers that have proliferated over the past 30 years.
I personally plead guilty to contributing to the internet shopping trend, as I buy books from Amazon.com when I can't get them from the public library. I feel guilty about this, because I enjoy loitering in the Uptown Border's store and so buy as many gifts there as I can, along with day planners and art books. However, browsers who buy the occasional art book or latte don't support a lavish space like this, and Border's is understandably not interested in functioning as a public library.
I have a feeling that we will witness massive consolidation and shrinkage of large-scale retail over the next twenty years, since there is so much more of it than is justified by consumer spending alone. Now that local political leaders are beginning to realize that throwing taxpayers money at unprofitable businesses, such as shopping malls to replace others a mile down the road, perhaps the frantic race to the bottom - that of seeing who can throw the most taxpayer's money at the largest number of big corporations who then move on in three years in search of their next $100MM "gimme"- will cease, and small entrepreneurs will find it rewarding to open small, specialized stores that form the fine-grained retail districts that give a neighborhood character and charm, and also give it a committed entrepreneurial class whose members are motivated by the desire to build homes and businesses in a neighborhood they love and care about, and to participate in a business that interests them, rather than a class of Corporate Welfare recipients who will move out and leave behind a vacant, useless building when some other community dangles a bigger carrot in front of their noses.
So maybe, down the road, we might get an Unabridged Books or Transitions instead, or a place founded and operated with love and commitment by a local citizen.