Update, Sat. Feb 21, 4:06 p.m.
From Alan Beatts who writes that in less than two days, Borderlands has met its goal and will remain on the Planet Earth for at least another year.
Though we are still accepting sponsorships and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year, at roughly 2:30 pm we reached our goal of 300 sponsors. Borderlands will remain open until March 31st, 2016.
Earlier, published Feb. 19th at 6 p.m.
Fans of Borderlands Books came out in droves to a community meeting last week after the beloved fantasy bookshop announced it was closing. They offered new business ideas and, perhaps most importantly, their fervent support for Valencia’s Street bastion of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books.
Owner Alan Beatts was apparently taking notes. As a byproduct of the meeting, Beatts and Borderlands’ staff announced Thursday that they’ve got a new plan that, if it works, will keep the store open.
Borderlands plans to offer its most dedicated patrons a sponsorship model, in which sponsors pay $100 a year in exchange for several benefits. To survive for another year, he needs 300 people to sign up as sponsors to raise $30,000. That he says will cover the additional payroll cost of the minimum wage increase which he previously cited as the store’s main reason for closure. To prevent dependence on large donors, individuals can buy only one sponsorship.
If Borderlands doesn’t sign up 300 members by March 31, the store will close. If its sponsors don’t renew their sponsorship in the following year, the store will close then. For now, Beatts says he feels “cautiously optimistic.”
While they’re still hammering out all the potential benefits, sponsors will get reserved seating at author events, the ability to rent the cafe for private events, and the opportunity to purchase special print items not available to the general public.
In a statement shared with Mission Local, and available in full on Borderlands’ website, Beatts says he was initially hesitant to establish a membership model because he didn’t believe it to be sustainable and “didn’t think it was right for a for-profit business to ask for a hand-out to continue operating.”
What changed Beatts’ mind? In part, it was the intensity with which Borderlands patrons showed their support. He was taken aback by how many people were willing to just hand over money to the struggling business. Several community meeting attendees suggested a membership plan in which enrolled members could simply pay more for Borderlands merchandise.
“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.”