Well, as you may have heard, what with massive global economic distress, it’s a dicey time right now for everyone. Comics and graphic novels seems to be riding their wave of growth for now, but no one who is following the news thinks the comics biz will get a pass. There could be big changes if, as many observers expect, Borders goes under. An article at The Motley Fools picks three retailers who might go out of business this year: Electronics store Circuit City, clothing retailer Talbots, and Borders.

There’s more red to Circuit City than the color of its storefront. The retailer was suffering even when the economy was chugging along, as consumers looked elsewhere for deals on electronics. And Borders may be working on paying down its debt, but with a quick ratio of just 0.1, this is one heck of a risky investment. A quick ratio beneath 1.0 can serve as a major warning flag, particularly if a company’s sales and profit margins are suffering and its inventories may have to go on clearance sale.

All three of these companies have several years of falling sales, falling profit margins, and lack of profitability. Circuit City and Talbots reported negative operating income in the last 12 months, meaning neither boasts the ability to cover interest expenses with operating income. Throw in a major economic crisis and a lot of terribly frightened, cash-poor, credit-constrained consumers, and the headwinds look perilous this holiday season.

The end of Circuit City would also mean reduced outlets for anime DVDs.


  1. If their Columbus stores are any indication, Borders and Circuit City will have no one to blame but themselves for (probably) going out of business.

    Borders seems to carry more obscure items that Barnes & Noble glosses over, but the store is a maze to navigate when looking for a specific item. Their website isn’t much better and doesn’t offer much in the way of discounts.

    As for Circuit City, they recently opened a smaller specialty store called The City (Stellar name there, I know) in my neighborhood that is practically useless to consumers that have heard of Best Buy, Target or Amazon.com. A small corner is devoted to DVDs and an even smaller section is set aside for a sparse amount of CDs, but the large central space is devoted to hand-held electronics like digital cameras, iPods, etc. that no one seems to be interested in, least of all the store employees.

  2. From my own experiences, I would have to agree that Borders and Circuit City doomed themselves. I’ve come to consider them consistently the worst at what they do for many years now.

  3. I have to say that was one of the things I always loved more about going to Borders was the wider selection or the more ‘obsure’ stuff in print that they would carry that Barnes & Noble would not. Barnes and Noble just carried the more popular stuff of note to me. Even stuff like the comic strip collection such as Zits and Peanuts, Borders would get collections of the harder to get stuff like Over The Hedge or Pickles. I’ll miss Borders if it goes, though I have been buying more stuff off Amazon the last 10 years than anywhere else…

  4. Huh. Interesting. The Borders out here in SoCal are all much better put together than the Barnes and Nobles. And, as an added bonus, they actually have books I like. Plus employee recommendations, which Barnes and Noble pretty much gave up on around here.

    Borders had personality while Barnes and Noble had starch.

  5. Borders stock is down -53% for the year, compared to B&N’s -32% and the Dow Jones Industrial -29%.

    Sure, one can stock obscure stuff, but if it doesn’t sell, then it’s inventory, and you’ve got to pay taxes on that, or return it for credit (unless you’ve got some fan like myself, who keeps stuff from getting automatically returned).

    Is Borders the new Tower Records?

    As for Circuit City, how many anime DVDs do they sell? Where are anime DVDs purchased?

  6. all this said as a former borders manager:

    “Borders seems to carry more obscure items that Barnes & Noble glosses over”

    The spin we were always given is this: “At BN, they have 10 copies of 1 book. At Borders, we have 1 copy of 10 books.”

    one of the reason I have always preferred Borders over BN (even before I worked there) was the variety of the stock. But that was from the view of a bookseller and merch manager, not as someone looking at the bottom line.

    But yeah, the stores here have become sadder and sadder. The music section has shrunk to almost nothing and there is more and more empty space on the shelves. I presume this is a budget issue.

  7. I like Borders

    Circuit City is one of the worst retail experiences I’ve ever encountered , short of actually being attacked by the staff!

  8. RE Socal: Borders does have a superior scif/fantasy/horror collection than B&N, but they peeved me mightily when they took away these great kiddie amphitheaters in the children’s section. And their toilets rival TRAINSPOTTING’s “Filthiest Toilet in Scotland,” that is, when they deign to have rest rooms at all (I’m looking at YOU Border’s Hollywood). Plus now they’ve done away with the new releases tables, instead going for some sort of concept-y approach.

  9. My local Borders remodeled and added a bunch of non-book related crap to sell. That seems like a last gasp to me. On the comic front BN sells more indie stuff than my local Borders which has almost none.

  10. I’m surprised that Circuit City is still in business. I mean, does anyone actually shop there? I can’t ever remember hearing someone say, “I’m going to Circuit City to pick up the latest (fill in the blank).” Everyone goes to Best Buy or Wal-mart or a warehouse store anymore. Their stores are cramped, poorly lit, and poorly designed. It won’t shock me at all if they’re gone not too long after Christmas.

  11. I bought my last set of headphones at Circuit City, if it’s any consolation.

    My old pair snapped right in front of the store entrance in Van Nuys, as I was running to catch a bus.

    It was just a matter of convenience.



  12. When I lived in Virginia Beach/Chesapeake, I usually chose Circuit CIty over Best Buy because, even though they were less than a mile apart, the Best Buy was always crowded and the Circuit City was empty. I could run in at lunchtime, buy what I wanted and be out in 5-10 minutes.

  13. As a former General Manager of one of the largest Borders stores in the country for several years, I’ve watched the company’s decline with mixed feelings. At least each year of my management tenure, and sometimes more often, I saw Borders try to reinvent itself with trendy ideas that simply didn’t work. Starting in 2000, Borders began to lose sight of the fact that the people who ran their stores, the folks with the boots on the ground so to speak, created the company’s success. An endless, dreary litany of new initiatives that took no account of the realities at the store level ensued. Sadly, this company deserves to fail. They’re just taking up valuable retail space.

  14. Well said retired GM. I was there for 10 years and left in March, they deserve to fail for the reasons you mentioned.