Borders bookstore, once the hub of downtown Fairfield, was looking a little empty by the end of last week, after the local outlet of the bankrupt national bookseller launched its liquidation sale. While the sales have just begun, the Seattle's Best coffee shop inside had closed the day prior, and the cafe tables and chairs were pushed together, although the store could potentially be open as late as May.

Margaret Boyd, who Thursday bought the newest Ina Garten cookbook, said she'll be in again -- when discounts are deeper -- but noted, "It's very sad for me to see it even the way it looks already."

"I can't imagine what it will look like in May," she added.

The store wasn't overly busy with people looking to take advantage of early sales around 3 p.m., but more customers were expected at the end of the work day. Boyd, a book club member, said Borders was always a hospitable place to go as she could shop for books and also visit nearby businesses. Thursday, she left Borders via the Post Road exit to head over to the nearby Banana Republic store, while her husband, lugging her books, used the rear exit to go wait for her in the car parked in the garage. Boyd said the two-level garage adjacent to Borders made the destination even more appealing.

Most books at Borders last week were discounted 20 percent, though young adult books were marked down 10 percent, prices on romance novels were cut 30 percent. Some merchandise, such as picture frames, photo albums and art supplies, was 30 percent off. The best deal on the first floor of the store was the price of magazines -- 40 percent off. Upstairs, children's books were 10 percent off, CDs and DVDs slashed 20 percent and Blu-Ray discs are 30 percent off.

The store is no longer accepting coupons, but gift cards can still be used. Large signs posted in the windows of the store at 1499 Post Road read, Nothing Held Back!" and "Entire store -- 20 percent to 40 percent off."

"I'm going to miss this place," Fairfielder Joyce Gennette said as she was leaving the store. "You can't sit and relax and enjoy yourself anywhere else."

A restaurant, Gennette said, only rolls out the welcome mat when you're buying food or buying drinks. However, at Borders she could sit and chat with friends or check out a book before making a decision to buy it or not. With Borders closing, Gennette said her alternatives for book-buying will now be BJs or Costco, but the selection at those wholesale clubs pales in comparison to a bookstore such as Borders.

While there is a Barnes & Noble book store down the Post Road in Westport, Gennette said that it is too out of the way for her. Only if something else took her to Westport would she stop there, she said.

Eighteen-year-old Reanne Wong, who hails from northeastern Connecticut, was in Fairfield visiting a friend. She had no clue until she saw the store's signs that Borders was selling its inventory for 20 to 40 percent off.

"I was very excited," she said. Walking out with three books to read on her spring break vacation, Wong estimated she saved about $15.