What Happened to the Bookstore Waldenbooks?

Waldenbooks, a subsidiary of Borders bookstores, ceased to exist when Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011. Borders attempted to save itself through "right-sizing." As a result of the policy, an average of 66 Waldenbooks locations closed each year from 2001 through 2007, with 112 closures in 2008 and approximately 200 in 2010. The company rebranded some Waldenbooks locations as Borders Express stores, though these locations continued to be a part of the company's Waldenbooks Specialty Retail division.

The idea behind the Borders right-sizing campaign was to return the overall company to viability by decreasing rent and lease payments, reducing inventory and hiring fewer people. The economic slowdown in 2008 reduced mall traffic, hurting mall chains such as Waldenbooks more than other companies. As a result, Waldenbooks was a natural division to cut.

While Borders and Waldenbooks had been affiliated since 1994, the two stores did not share an electronic database until April of 2010. Prior to that date, Waldenbooks employees were unable to find items for customers in Borders inventory lists, hurting brand efficiency. Waldenbooks sold merchandise online via Borders.com, accepted Borders gift cards and participated in the Borders reward program, but received little branding in its own name.

Waldenbooks' image as a tiny mall retailer clashed with Borders, which was known as a pioneer of the superstore model and frequently had locations six times the size of the average Waldenbooks. The entire company, including Waldenbooks, was doomed by crushing debt and an inability to adapt quickly enough to the changing marketplace.

Waldenbooks was founded as a rental library by Lawrence Hoyt in 1933. The first book store opened in 1962, with a location in every state by 1981. The brand was acquired by Kmart in 1984 and Borders in 1994.