A Borders reunion at Literati
From the August, 2018 issue
"Tom Borders!" exclaimed Carla Bayha, as she was about to ring up a purchase at Literati bookstore. The trim, silver-haired man seemed taken aback until Bayha reintroduced herself: she started at Borders Books as a clerk when it was still owned by Borders and his brother, Louis. She eventually rose to buyer and stayed on till the company folded in 2011. Another Borders grad, Jean Joesten, was also working that day--and showed up wearing a limited-edition Borders T-shirt displaying an image of Elvis. The three shared memories dating back more than a quarter of a century to "Store Number One" on State St.
Since Literati opened in 2013, owners Mike and Hilary Gustafson have hired half a dozen former Borders employees. Longtime Store Number One manager Joe Gable lent books from his own vast collection to fill vacant shelf space in the early days and remains a regular customer. Literati's glass-doored bookcases came from Borders' liquidation sale, and if Tom Borders had ventured into the basement, he might also have recognized a handsome wood bench that once furnished Store Number One. When the store moved to East Liberty, employees were allowed to take unwanted items. Joesten claimed the bench, and it followed her to Literati.
After the brothers sold the company in 1992, Tom and his wife, Carmel, moved to Austin, Texas. Bayha says he told her it was his first visit to Literati and "how great it was" to see it.
She rang up his purchase: a copy of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient.
[Originally published in August, 2018.]
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