Eighteen-year-old Borderlands Books is the first bookstore casualty of San Francisco's new minimum wage law. In an announcement on its website, the store said that it will close its doors by March 31.
Borderlands, which sells new and used science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery titles, said while the law may be a positive for the city, it doesn't feel it can operate under the new guidelines, which will demand that minimum pay for employees jump to $12.25 an hour by May.
“We believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco—Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage,” store owner Alan Beatts wrote. That’s because the new minimum wages will increase its payroll by 39%, which will in turn raise its operating expenses by 18%. And Beatts doesn’t believe that the store can grow sales by 20% to make that work.
Over the years Boderlands has weathered a number of difficulties. In 2000 it was forced to move to its current 2,000 sq. ft. location when its landlord doubled its rent. The store also struggled to survive the Great Recession. “At the beginning of 2014, the future of the business looked, if not rosy, at least stable and very positive,” wrote Beatts.
Beatts prefers to close Borderlands now, “at a time of our choosing, to keep everyone’s sorrow to a minimum, and then get on with our lives.”
The store will hold a public meeting on Thursday, February 12, to talk with customers about the decision. “Although we do not believe that any viable alternative exists, we also think that we have a very smart and imaginative group of customers. It is not impossible that we’ve missed a potential solution,” Beatts noted.