Though he mentioned the problems posed by e-readers and Amazon in his initial statements on the impending closure of Borderlands Books, owner Alan Beatts would now like everyone to know that the real culprit is the increasing minimum wage. With $15 an hour due to each employee (by 2018), the Mission's science fiction-, fantasy-, mystery-, and horror-focused store says it can't survive.
Borderlands announced the closure two weeks ago, and a meeting to discuss it was held last Thursday. As Mission Local reports, Beatts walked customers and fans through his logic, emphatically blaming the wage hike for his call to halt business. “Let me put to bed this whole it’s Amazon, bookselling-is-not-viable story,” he reportedly said. “I am closing because of the minimum wage law. It’s not our rent, it’s not Amazon. It’s not the way San Francisco is changing.”
Beatts made a very tortured analogy in an attempt to further that point. "He compared the bookstore to an ailing man with heart disease who smokes cigarettes and has lung disease and decides to consume a large quantity of methamphetamine. The theoretical man suffers a heart attack and dies. He wasn’t doing great to begin with, Beatts reasoned, but it’s the meth that actually killed him. So it was with Borderlands and the minimum wage increase." Okay.
It sounds like there was also an outpouring of creative ideas for saving the store in some form, from converting it to a roving sci-fi bookmobile to an excavation of the store's basement and a subterranean move. One idea was to create a bookstore-cum-gallery nonprofit in the style of Adobe Books, allowing the store to pursue arts funding.
Restaurants in the area such as the Abbott's Cellar have also cited the increased minimum wage as an insurmountable obstacle to business. But nearby at Vallhalla books, which is also set to close, owner Joe Marchione had a different story for the Examiner. They report that Machione is struggling with a huge rent increase, and is more willing to acknowledge the difficulties of bookstores in the Amazon age. They quote him as saying that problems and expenses "could be handled with the changed book-buying habits of the public."
Previously: The Mission's Borderlands Books Will Close