Loved and lost Cheshire book shop where customers would ‘spend hours’

The closure of Borders at The Coliseum shopping park was described as ‘a sad loss’

A loved and lost bookshop chain where customers “would spend hours” browsing is still missed in Cheshire.

Before online shopping and reading on a tablet became as popular as it is today – we made our way to Borders Books. Stocking thousands of titles and magazines, as well as cards, CDs, DVDs and more, Borders first opened in the UK in 1997 and was originally owned by the US book giant of the same name.

But by the early noughties, the bookshop phenomena had come to Cheshire and had sites in the surrounding areas, including Liverpool. Many will specifically remember Borders at The Coliseum shopping park, as well as the branch on Riverside Retail Park in Warrington.

Back in March 2000, Ellesmere Port became home to the first retail park bookstore in Europe. During that period, the store based at The Coliseum shopping park was also a destination for many famous faces promoting their latest literary work, from American TV star David Hasselhoff and former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, to footballer Michael Owen and food writer Nigella Lawson.

High-profile authors such as Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson also graced the store during its heyday. Borders had something for everybody and would welcome students, gamers, young families, older couples and more to browse the aisles full of hundreds of books, from classics and children’s literature to sport, new releases and more.

Many of the branches, including the one in Cheshire Oaks, had a Starbucks coffee inside so you could sip a hot drink whilst getting comfy on one of the big chairs with a book. Boasting a fantastic selection of books, magazines, CDs, videos, foreign papers and gifts, you could also purchase stationary or a new video game via Paperchase and GAME which was inside many of the Borders stores.

Over the years, different Borders bookshops would host everything from in store acoustic performances, celebrity book signings and midnight openings for new must-have books that would see late night queues. Borders was a massive part of the book industry in the UK and unforgettable moments, from queues outside the Ellesmere Port branch to see Jacqueline Wilson to going to the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter book.

Tricia Jones said: “Spent hours here with my two boys when they were young, one of my boys still loves reading now even though he’s late 20’s and he used to be like a kid in a sweet shop here.” Alexandra Reynolds said: “Loved going in here. My son and husband went to queue for the new Harry Potter book.”

Susan Wallace posted: ” Absolutely loved it, books and coffee, what more could one ask.” Christine Dukes wrote: “How I miss this store. Remember being in there till 11 at night.”

Sheila Bonney wrote: “Used to love spending hours here – a coffee and browsing through the many shelves of books – it was so therapeutic.” Betty Smith commented: ” Really loved that shop and miss it. Wish we had something like that back. I spent a small fortune finding and buying books for myself, family and friends then relaxing with a cup of coffee when I’d finished shopping.”

Jane Haynes commented: “Hot chocolate and mooching round Borders on a Friday night. Heaven.” Charlene Foley-Friend commented: “If anyone went to the midnight opening for the last Harry Potter book then I would have handed it to them! I absolutely loved organising that event, it took me months!!!”

Sarah Scott wrote: “I worked there for the first year. It’s great that the customers had such wonderful experiences & memories of the place, but being on the other side as stafff…..um.” Michelle Porter commented: ” I loved taking my son here when he was little. Also loved they had a Paperchase shop in there.”

Jane Lane said: “I used to love that place and spent many hours browsing through the books and drinking coffee. It was the “go to” place for quite a few of us. I was so upset when it closed and haven’t been back to Cheshire oaks since.” Tish Valentine commented: ” One of my favourite shops.”

Ann Gemmell posted: “Loved Borders. Spent too much money in there though. Great place to meet friends.” Steve Hughes said: “A sad loss. Wonderful shop.”

Nicole Barlow wrote: “I met Jacqueline Wilson here and it still to this day is one of my favourite memories and borders deffo played a huge part in my love or reading and writing.” Marilyn Fletcher posted: ” It was a wonderful shop, such a treat to visit.”

It’s been over ten years now since Borders went into administration and announced the closure of the store – and today it is still missed in Cheshire. In 2009, the collapse of Borders affected 1,150 jobs across the country, with three stores at Warrington, Speke and Cheshire Oaks closing.

Former CEO Philip Downers even took to social media to pay tribute to the success of the Ellesmere Port store on the 20th anniversary of its opening. In a series of tweets back on March 30, 2020, he said: “It was 20 years ago today we opened Borders store 400, Cheshire Oaks.

“Actually next door to the outlet centre, in Ellesmere Port’s Coliseum Retail Park. It was the first retail park bookstore in Europe.

“Borders and Barnes & Noble had a handful of US city centre flagships, but had built their American empires out of town. Could we do the same? Cheshire Oaks was a 20,000sq ft, single storey store. News and mags inside the front door with CD and video beyond, adult books in the core, and children’s and café off to the left.

“It was a blistering success. Sales north of £6 million a year, net profit over £1 million. Glasgow Buchanan St was equally profitable, but required almost twice the sales to get there. And Cheshire Oaks was a local sensation – no one had seen anything like it before.

“It was a book/media lovers’ dream, and a bona fide family day out. It was Borders UK’s high tide. It was a fantastic shop. So today, let’s salute the Oaks – Europe’s first, biggest, busiest and most profitable retail park bookstore.”

Shoppers will no doubt remember the closing down sales that swept Borders bookshops across the country and what it was like going there one last time, leaving with a discounted item in a borders bag. By Christmas 2009, all Borders stores had closed, although a number of the bookshops still exist abroad.

By

Jess MolyneuxNostalgia Reporter
  • 05:00, 16 AUG 2022

 

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