Remember Borderlands Books? This San Francisco independent book store had a near-death experience earlier this year, garnering national headlines for the news that it would shut down as a consequence of the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.
Borderlands was saved by a unique customer fundraiser that provided the funding needed to stay open another year. But now, another San Francisco book store is also asking for its customers’ goodwill in the face of a dramatic wage hike.
Comix Experience, located on Divisadero Street in the city’s Lower Haight neighborhood, has launched a Graphic Novel Club to raise the money needed to cover the cost of the wage hike. The owner explains:
San Francisco is about to raise minimum wage to the nation’s highest at $15/hour over the next three years – a 43% hike. While we at Comix Experience absolutely support a living wage, this unprecedented increase will put a huge pressure on small businesses like ours. To put it into raw numbers, given our current staffing (and we run very tight), we will soon have to generate an additional $80,000 a year in sales just to meet the rise. … In order to fully cover the shortfall, we need to sell 334 memberships at the yearly rate [of $240].
This isn’t a marginal business: It was even profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year as an example of a thriving comic book store. But the city’s new wage mandate, which will phase in over three years starting next month, has rendered their business model unworkable without the added customer generosity.
It’s the same dynamic that small business owners across the city are grappling with as they look to raise prices, cut staffing costs, or close entirely in response to the coming $15 minimum wage. We’ve chronicled numerous examples of the minimum wage disaster unfolding in the Bay Area, most recently in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. With the consequences playing out in real-time, the question now is whether other cities looking to following suit–including the city of Los Angeles–will reconsider the wisdom of the policy.