The store had been slated to close after San Francisco's new minimum wage law tipped it from marginal (due to high rents, competition from Amazon) to unprofitable, but after a meeting with customers, the owners decided to offer $100 "memberships" to make up the shortfall.
I read about this on Friday and called them straightaway from New Zealand to buy my membership. In less than two days, the store got its 300th member, making it viable until spring 2016, when they'll open for new members. People are still signing up for memberships, even though the store requires prospective members to come in person or call — there's no online payment option.
Members get priority seating at the store's many events (I launched my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, there in 2003), as well as access to limited-edition printed items, and other benefits as yet to be determined.
"The other thing that was made clear to me at the meeting was that people really valued the social aspect of Borderlands, as well as valuing our recommendations, curation, and suggestions," Beatts writes. "Of course, I value it too, as do all our staff, but I didn't realize just how much it meant to other people."
That social, community value inspired Beatts to try this sponsorship plan. One of the benefits of being a sponsor will be invites to Borderland special events, parties, and writing workshops.
To those fantasy bookstore fans who had been crestfallen by news the store's imminent closure and are reading this update now, Beatts says: "I apologize for the whiplash that you may be experiencing right about now—everyone at Borderlands is feeling it too."
Borderlands Reaches Its Goal of 300 Sponsors [Mission Local]