Don’t believe minimum wage hikes hurt real people? After March 31, a famed sci-fi bookstore on Valencia St. in San Francisco’s Mission District will no longer be able to cater to your taste in fantasy:
The change in minimum wage will mean our payroll will increase roughly 39%. That increase will in turn bring up our total operating expenses by 18%. To make up for that expense, we would need to increase our sales by a minimum of 20%. We do not believe that is a realistic possibility for a bookstore in San Francisco at this time.
And this, which speaks for itself:
In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in [principle] and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st. The cafe will continue to operate until at least the end of this year.
Early reactions from customers online run heavily to two themes: 1) anguish that a beloved cultural institution is passing from the scene and 2) reflections that they, the fans and customers, had supported the minimum wage hike too when it was on the ballot. (It might restrict businesses’ rights, but who cares about that?) But in this world — as in so many of the well-crafted alternative worlds of science fiction — the link between actions and their logical consequences, foreseen and intended or otherwise, is not to be broken. [Reprinted from my post at Cato at Liberty]
Coyote read the letter in recognition:
I found the language here familiar because I spent most of last year writing such letters to angry customer bases. In our case, fortunately, we had the ability to raise prices so the letters were to defuse customer irritation rather than to announce a closure.
And Mark Perry at AEI identifies why a bookstore in particular cannot adjust the way a restaurant or a dry cleaner might:
There’s a limit to how much a bookstore can increase book prices to offset higher labor costs because the publisher sets the list price of the book and it’s printed on the book cover.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a new minimum wage law hits nonprofits, which ask for more taxpayer money so they can comply [Inquirer]