Inside the in the Wynnewood Shopping Center, there are still lots and lots of bookshelves. Many of the old, blond, floor-to-ceiling shelves remain from the Borders days—along with other remnants of the store's retail infrastructure the liquidators could not unload.
But there are also new bookshelves for sale, and antiques (though no books) standing upright on the floor, next to beds, ottomans, recliners, dining room sets, kitchen tables, lamps, and pretty much any other kind of furniture you might need.
is settling in, its managers say, after having to . (A gallery of most of the store’s current stock can be seen here.)
“It’s picking up a little bit, though it’s right after the holidays, and everybody’s broke after the holidays,” said Joan Koehler, the Wynnewood store’s manager, as she polished a handsome wet bar. “But it’ll start picking up with tax season, and then the summer ... and then the more we start to advertise.”
The merchandise right now is 80 percent new and about 20 percent consignment, but the goal is to get to 50-50 sometime in the coming months.
“Our brand new furniture is discounted 30 to 50 percent off, everyday,” said Norm Levin, who grew up with owner and operator Barney Daley, and is his best friend. “And the consignment furniture is high quality.”
A stroll through both floors of the big store (“Take as many pictures as you want,” Levin encouraged) seemed to bear that out—good-looking stuff with a mostly restrained, almost Main Line aesthetic, with surprising prices: affordable, one might say.
That affordability comes with a caveat. Levin said all merchandise is sold as marked—there is absolutely no haggling at a Barney Daley store.
He meant it. Eyeing a nice Mission-style leather chair, I offered to buy it only slightly below the list price. No go, Levin said, especially since it was new. He wouldn’t sell me the floor model, either, saying that meant the absence of the chair on the showroom floor for a week or so.
Koehler, who works with Daley at the company’s main warehouse most days (she’s in Wynnewood on Tuesdays and Saturdays), said advertising is due to begin by the spring. By late summer, they’d like to be well-known enough, and have a good enough reputation for deals, to attract the many college students (and their parents) at St. Joseph’s University, Villanova and the other schools that dot the Main Line.
Even without advertising, foot traffic through the store was decent during the holidays, Koehler said—but many people mistakenly stumbled in expecting to pick up a couple of books and maybe a CD or DVD.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people came in saying, ‘What happened? Where’s Borders?’,” Koehler said with a laugh, recalling how several people actually got angry with her.
“Hey, I can’t help it if they went bankrupt,” she quipped.
In the meantime, if she and Daley were to consider a sideline in used books, they’ve got the shelves, the perfect location, and to do just that.