Due to various domestic interruptions, I am posting this from a bookstore cafe this morning.
And the subject of this post is that the place where I am sitting is about to shut down. Borderlands is a wonderful sci fi, fantasy, and mystery bookstore that has been in my Mission neighborhood, if not forever, at least for more than a decade.
Borderlands is not -- entirely -- a casualty of the tech economy. Sure, it suffers from the usual vicissitudes of book selling these day: competition from giant online retailers that can always undersell brick and mortar establishments and from rising rents as our little corner of the world morphs into a playground for comparatively affluent tech worker newcomers. But squeezed by these realities, it was the voter mandate to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018 that did this place in. I'll let Borderlands owner tell his story:
What I take from this is that the business has always been extremely precarious. If bumping several part timers up to $15/hour will raise the payroll 39 percent, the payroll wasn't much to begin with. This is confirmed by Alan Beatts's explanation that he only made $28K last year, in a year when the bookstore was marginally profitable. Borderlands has simply been hanging by a thread all along. The entire essay is worth reading at the link.
Though I'm not an aficionado of the sort of fiction they sell, I've always loved Borderlands as the place where I first learned that there was a breed of cat known as the Sphinx. Meet Ripley, long in residence here, and now sadly deceased.