Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Numbers Behind the San Francisco Bookstore that Will Close Because of a Climbing Minimum Wage

In a new essayThe New Yorker, in  Hamlet-like fashion, can't quite make up its mind as to whether the minimum wage is good or bad, despite the essay being about the San Francisco  bookstore that is closing because of the upcoming minimum wage hikes.

Nevertheless, the piece does provide some solid background on the financial situation of  Borderlands, the San Francisco bookstore that is closing:

[Alan Beatts owner of Borderlands] employs five people beside himself, only one of whom works full time, and they all get paid minimum wage, or a couple of cents more; last year, that amounted to less than eleven dollars an hour. His own wages are slightly higher—he made twenty-eight thousand dollars last year, which, accounting for a forty-hour work week and no vacation time, comes to about thirteen dollars an hour. (“If people think I’m lighting hundred-dollar cigars with hundred-dollar bills back in the office, it’s like, that’s not happening,” he said, noting that he usually works fifty or sixty hours a week.) Overall, raising wages to fifteen dollars an hour would increase the store’s operating expenses by nearly twenty per cent. In 2013, Borderlands turned a profit of about three thousand dollars; the higher expenses would mean a loss of about twenty-five thousand dollars. 

More here: SF Bookstore Survived 100% Rent Increase, Great Recession & Competition from Amazon and eBooks, but Not $15 Minimum Wage

(ht Andrew Kunian)


  1. Let me paraphrase the owner: "I acknowledge that the new minimum wage has kicked us in the balls. However, I still believe that being kicked in the balls may be a good thing for others."

    1. If it's not cognitive dissonance, the owner is simply trying to be socially acceptable. That is he doesn't want to lose friends over this. Most good intentioned bad policies/laws/regulations can happen because people who know better can't stand up to them without becoming socially isolated.

  2. Looking at their own website, they state they chose to expand during a financially tenuous time. So, a very specific niche market, the impact of ebooks and online sales and the fact that even back in 2013 before the increase of the minimum wage they only made a 3K profit...

    Laying this all at the feet of minimum wage is just a soundbite for the right wing...