Community sponsorships start rolling in for Borderlands Books 

click to enlarge A plan to offer customers $100 annual sponsorships could help Borderlands Books keep its doors open. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • A plan to offer customers $100 annual sponsorships could help Borderlands Books keep its doors open.
In just the first two hours after Borderlands Books blogged about a potential means to avoid closure Thursday night, dozens of supporters called and emailed the store to offer their support.

The plan is to find 300 people by March 31 who would become $100 annual sponsors of the Mission district bookstore. Owner Alan Beatts hopes this would help him balance out the impacts of San Francisco’s minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2018.

More than 70 people contributed to the effort between 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday night, and Beatts told The San Francisco Examiner that general manager Jude Feldmen was on the phone nonstop since the store opened Friday. By late Friday afternoon, more than 150 sponsors had emerged.

“The way that things are standing right now,” Beatts said Friday morning, “yeah, I think we’ll probably make it.”

Beatts previously announced that Borderlands would close March 1 due to the minimum wage increase. But after hearing an outcry of support from the community at a public meeting Feb. 12, he now says his store could survive through the community sponsorships.

The catch: Contributors will have to continue to provide that same amount every year or Beatts will have to close Borderlands.

Further, if 300 sponsors do not offer their support in the short time frame then the business will close, and people who did sign on to the sponsorship will only be refunded $75 each.

“Two people have offered between them to cover the cost of any remaining sponsorships between now and the end of March,” Beatts said. “And I would refuse that because this has to be sustainable.”

That is because Beatts said the store is not soliciting or accepting donations. Rather, it is providing privileges and services worth more than the $100 contributions, he said.

If his plan works and Borderlands flourishes, the sponsorships will include special benefits such as donor-only events, clothing and first access to limited-availability items. For a small fee, Beatts’ adjoining cafe will also be made available after hours for sponsors, he said.

“If things get to the point where we need substantially more I might raise the amount of the sponsorship,” Beatts said. “I’m not married, either, to that 300 number, but I do like that it’s sort of a small group of people against the strong forces of the world.”

Scott Sigler, a New York Times bestselling author, told The Examiner that he signed up for the sponsorship because Borderlands was the first bookstore to give him a reading in front of an audience and carry his books.

“Every book tour I’ve ever done has either started or ended at Borderlands,” Sigler said. “I’m sponsoring because I’m a big believer in the way they run their business, the way they take care of their customers and the way they treat new readers.”

Those interested in helping Borderlands should refer to the shop’s blog for more information. The store is accepting payments in person, over the phone or by mail. Sponsorships are not limited to 300. Borderlands is located at 866 Valencia St. in the Mission.

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