San Francisco’s $15 Minimum Wage Claims Another Victim

The specter of a $15 minimum wage is haunting San Francisco’s Valencia Street.

Borderlands Books, located between 19th and 20th Street, announced this week that it is closing its doors, citing the impending wage hike as a driving factor. The announcement comes on the heels of Abbot’s Cellar, an acclaimed restaurant located one block north between 18th and 19th, going out of business in part for the same reason. Half a block north of that at 18th and Valencia, the restaurant Luna Park is also suggested to be near shuttering–partially due to the wage hike.

For proponents of the $15 minimum wage who downplayed the preponderance of economic evidence pointing to job loss at higher minimum wages, this Valencia Street tragedy offers a stunning rebuke.

In a personal essay explaining why Borderlands Books is closing, its owner Alan Beatts is clear: “Borderland Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage.” The bookstore, he explains, was able to weather the Great Recession, the skyrocketing San Francisco rent, and the revolution yet is unable to withstand the impending wage hike.

It’s not unusual for a minimum wage increase to have negative side-effects for employees. Decades of empirical research have connected a higher minimum wage and lost jobs. Call it another example of the law of unintended consequences.