Location: Center City Philadelphia.
Stores Examined: BARNES & NOBLE on Walnut Street; BORDERS on Broad and Chestnut.
1.) DOOR GUARDS.
The daytime door guard at BORDERS looks to be a friendly guy. He stands unobtrusively for hours on end and lets people be on their way. His expression is inscrutable. It could mean, "I'm studying this store carefully" or it could mean "I'm standing here sleeping." He seldom says anything.
The BARNES & NOBLE door guards are a mixed lot, the cast always changing, despite or because of the fact they're oppressivley friendly. Presumably if they don't say "Hi" and "Bye" to each and every person passing through the door they're fired. The best of them is a young woman who actually IS friendly; enjoys holding the door for gentry with babies and for doddering old people. (Today's UpdikeMailerBellow famous writers would be okay shopping at the place.) Meanwhile, the BORDERS guy stands stoically immovably pretending he's with the FBI.
The BARNES & NOBLE people are constantly selling, or interrogating: "Would you like a muffin or sandwich or dessert with that today? Can I ring up the stack of books and magazines in your hands right now for you today?"-- and look at you as if you're a criminal if you don't comply.
At the BORDERS meanwhile they know you're there to read the books and magazines for hours and spill coffee over them not to buy them, all they're going to get out of you is the coffee and maybe a blueberry buckle cake so they leave you be.
3.) SALES CLERKS.
BARNES & NOBLE has the better-looking sales girls.
Advantage: BARNES & NOBLE.
Final Tally: BORDERS 2, B & N 1.