March 2, 2015

300 sponsorships at $100 a piece will keep Borderlands Books open through 2015


Borderlands Books. (via Ian Irving/Flickr)

Borderlands Books. (via Ian Irving/Flickr)

In February, we reported that Borderlands Books, the beloved science fiction shop in San Francisco’s Mission District, was closing its doors due to an increase in the city’s minimum wage requirements. But after a recent meeting with members of the community in the store’s cafe, the owners may have found an opportunity to stay in business through crowdsourcing “sponsorships.”

Here’s the plan, according to the Borderlands website:

Starting immediately we will be offering paid sponsorships of the store.  Each sponsorship will cost $100 for the year and will need to be renewed every year.  If we get 300 sponsors before March 31st, we will stay open for the remainder of 2015.

Our goal is to gather enough paid sponsors to cover the projected short-fall in income that will be the result of the minimum wage increase in San Francisco.  At the beginning of next year we will again solicit sponsors.  If next year we again reach our goal by March 31st, we will remain open through 2016.  This process will continue each year until we close, either because of a lack of sponsorship or for other reasons.

Just two days after this announcement, Borderlands reached their goal of 300 sponsors–among them Cory Doctorow, who wrote about the campaign for BoingBoing–and an outpouring of support from authors like Margaret Atwood and Laurie Penny, meaning the store will stay open at least until March 31st, 2016.

For their blog, co-owner Jude Feldman wrote:

Borderlands has always been more than just a store, or just a job, for me; I’ve poured heart and soul and time and even a bit of blood into it – OF COURSE it’s vital to me.  But I didn’t understand how vital it was to other people, too.  I didn’t understand that it represented the same (or similar) things to you.  And I apologize for underestimating you.

. . .

I’m having a tough time being linear, let alone eloquent, right now.  I’m crying all over the keyboard.  But thank you.  Thank you so much for letting me keep doing what I love best in the world; thank you for doing your part to help keep San Francisco weird; and thank you for helping to preserve space for the dreamers.  I have never before thought that loving something as hard as you could was enough to change anything — that sounds like something that only happens in stories — in fantasy.  But you proved me wrong.  So thank you for letting us continue to champion imagination, because as you’ve proved conclusively, it really can change the world.

Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.