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Westbury, Commack Borders to shut

Customers outside the Borders in Commack

Customers outside the Borders in Commack Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The Borders book chain filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday and announced that it plans to close 200 of its 642 stores over the next few weeks.

The locations the 40-year-old company plan to close include its Commack and Westbury stores, which opened in 1997 and 1994, respectively. Borders has seven stores on Long Island.

The company is laboring under a crushing debt and sluggishness in adapting to a rapidly changing industry. It considers the stores that will close “underperforming.”

About 6,000 employees nationwide could be affected, including the 31 employees at the Commack store and the 34 in Westbury, a spokesman said. He declined to say what would happen to the employees.

Some shoppers outside the Commack store were unhappy to hear about the planned closing.

“I’m sorry that it is closing,” said Susan McCarthy, 55, of Kings Park, who was on her way to the store. For years she has patronized that location about twice a month to buy books and CDS.

“It’s close to my house and it’s not as big as some of the Barnes and Noble” stores, she said.

Renee Hirshfield, 59, of Commack, who was leaving the store with a bag of purchases yesterday, was disappointed to learn of the planned closing also.

“Obviously I am not happy,” she said.

Borders plans to operate normally and honor gift cards and its loyalty program as it reorganizes. Clearance sales at the stores slated to close, including three in Manhattan, could begin as early as this weekend, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Borders, based in Ann Habor, Mich., and the country’s second largest bookstore chain, said it is losing about $2 million a day at the stores it plans to close.

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