The word appears to have gotten out in the SF community that Borderlands Books in San Francisco will be closing. This has been a first-rate SF specialty store for some years, and the closing will be a major loss, as well as removing one of the two reasons I like to go to the Mission (the other is for a burrito).
I had errands at the UC Berkeley library on Tuesday - immense struggles with inadequate instructions for the scanner/printer system that's replaced photocopiers - so I came home by way of the City and stopped by the store. Since I don't get to the area very often when there's time, this might be my last visit, though I hope not. Alan was there, so we chatted a bit. He said nobody is allowed to be sadder than he is. In response to the e-mail's notice that updates will be frequent, I said that not only do I want to stay on the list, but if he or Jude do get involved in another bookselling project in the future - like the non-profit foundation pipe dream Alan has - I want to know about it. I bought some books, then went to the attached cafe to browse them over a biscotti.
The reason for the closure is particularly distressing. The City's new higher minimum wage law squeezes the profits too much in an already-precarious line of business that can't effectively raise its prices.
This is what conservatives have been warning about regarding minimum wage increases: that they will force businesses to cut back jobs or even close. Liberals respond that this is counteracted by the additional money pumped into the economy by giving workers more to spend as consumers, enlarging the market and allowing businesses to grow. My understanding is that practical experience has generally proven this second argument to be true.
But that doesn't mean it can't have unfortunate individual effects. It's worth remembering that, even though Alan says he's an unusual case and that the wage law is probably a good idea.