Varsity Theater, Palo Alto
Borders is located in the historic Varsity Theater in downtown Palo Alto. Everyone knows what a Borders is and what Borders sells, so I won't spend much time there. The cool thing about this store is that when the theater went out of business and needed major renovations, Borders stepped in and restored the beautiful interior to create a very unique bookstore.
The Varsity Theater was built in 1927 and operated as a first-run theater until 1987; it remained an art house theater until it closed in 1994. The theater needed seismic renovation that would run in the millions of dollars, and no group that wanted to preserve the theater could raise the money. Borders presented a middle ground--convert the theater to retail while maintaining essential elements of the original theater, particularly the facade and the courtyard.
As you approach the old theater you will notice the blazing glare of the neon with the Varsity Theater marquee with a smaller Borders sign below. When you enter the doors you are in an open air courtyard with arches, a fountain, and several tables tucked into the corners. Moving further into the store you will see the cashiers at what must have been the concessions area. You will turn right to enter the old theater. The walls are lined with arches of decreasing height as you walk toward where the movie screen was. These arches are adorned with detailed ribbons and angelic faces painted gold. The ceiling certainly is reminiscent of the old theater with its gentle arcs and dim lighting.