6 Replies Latest reply on Feb 22, 2015 9:34 PM by gb18
      • Re: SF Borderlands bookstore closing

        I'm sorry to hear that.  I went to hear Patricia Briggs speak there several years ago, and bought her latest from Borderlands at that time.  I too am very much for a living wage, but can understand how that leaves a bookstore between a rock and a very hard place.

        • Re: SF Borderlands bookstore closing

          While sad that another bookstore is shutting its doors, they trot out some convenient scapegoats (the minimum wage increase, online competition), rather than it just being what it is—no longer financially viable for them.


          Not wanting to put in 50-60 hour weeks without a vacationI think has more to do with it. They just sound done with all the headaches of running a bookstore in this economy and state of the industry.


          Personally, if I owned a bookstore (or other business), I would expect a 50-60 hour week at minimum. Hell, when I was a manager for Borders, 60 hour weeks were typical and I didn't even own the place. I can't speak about this owner, as I've never been there and don't know him, but I have met other bookstore owners over the decades who just didn't seem to understand what a commitment of time it would be or how hard it would be. And for the longest time, many bookstores could take a pretty casual approach and be a little more laid back.


          But that began to change in the 1990s and has only accelerated. Changes in the retail business, the book industry, and the emergence of online and ebooks have meant that bookstores have to be run as very savvy businesses to even have a chance. And even then ...


          Sadly, a lot of bookstore owners just didn't have the skill or patience to make the transition.


          Still, I wish them, their staff, and their customers well.

              • Re: SF Borderlands bookstore closing

                Obviously, the owners consider the minimum wage hike a factor, and apparently the final nail.


                But I'm not sure what point you're trying to make gb18 by just posting a link.


                There is some validity that the rise in minimum wage is trickier to  adjust for when your main products are marked with a retail price by the publisher that you can't just simply adjust higher to help make up for rising wages (as would a restaurant, for example.)


                I don't know enough about this business to say if there was room to adjust their business plan to make it financially viable with rising labor costs.


                Were they discounting new books? Could that discount be modified or eliminated?

                Was there too much of an emphasis on used stock?

                Other than the cafe, was there the potential to add in enough higher margin items or services to cover the labor costs?


                The tone of the owner's post on the site just sounded very familiar: too much has changed or is changing to make this viable in the way we want it to be. To hope to survive, we would have to change the business in substantial ways that would make it something outside what we envision/are willing to do. So better to bow out now, on our own terms.


                The closing of (just about) any bookstore is sad news to me. But without being on the inside of the particular business and the business owner's heart and mind, it is hard to know all the internal and external factors that led to that point.

                  • Re: SF Borderlands bookstore closing

                    According to one of the linked versions of the story, the owner only made $28,000 off the store last year, even before the minimum wage increase.  In other words, $15 per hour for his employees would be more than he was making himself (especially since I suspect he was working a lot more than 40 hours a week).  The minimum wage may have been the final straw, but this store was barely viable already.