Mr. Lawrence Hoyt, the founder of the future Waldenbooks, went into business for himself, a rental library in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where readers could spend 3 cents a day reading books. He opened his business on March 4th, 1933, the same day that Franklin D. Roosevelt closed the banks. Despite it being the middle of the worst economic times in the nation's history, Mr. Hoyt's business was a resounding success. By 1948, he had 250 stores, coast to coast.

With the advent of the paperback book in the 1950's, books became affordable for purchase for the common person. Mr. Hoyt adapted his stores, and in 1962, opened the first independent retail-only store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1969, ownership changed to Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc., parent company to Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores. Under this ownership, expansion was rapid, and in 1972, all stores assumed the name Waldenbooks, after Thoreau's literary classic "Walden". By 1981, Waldenbooks had 750 stores and benchmarked an industry first - they had stores in each of the 50 states.

In another change in ownership, K-Mart bought Waldenbooks in 1984. Brentano's, an upscale book retail chain, and Coles, a Canadian book retail chain, were acquired by Waldenbooks in the same year. In 1987, Waldenbooks acquired its own publishing company, Longmeadow Press, publishing almost 200 titles a year.

Borders Books and Waldenbooks joined together under K-Mart ownership in 1994, and in 1995 went public as Borders Group Incorporated.

Currently, Waldenbooks operates over 1,000 stores in 3 countries. It also holds the title as the largest mall-based book retailer in the world.

Unfortunately, Waldenbooks ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy. While it was at one time the largest mall-based bookstore, changing markets and the drifting of customers away from malls helped to bring about their downfall.

The bookstore was bought up by KMart when they were diversifying, along with Borders. After a few years, the management of KMart decided to merge Borders, Waldenbooks, and Brentano's into one large company in 1994 and spun the new company off. Many of the Waldenbooks were rebranded as Borders Express in 2004, but about two-thirds were shut down because the shopping habits of Americans were changing by the time 2010 rolled around. In the end they filed for complete liquidation of all remaining Waldenbooks and Borders in 2011. 

Rest in peace, Borders and Waldenbooks.

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