Borderlands Books, San Francisco’s science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror bookstore, has raised $1.9 million in a matter of weeks in order to purchase a building on Haight Street that will serve as its new permanent home. These loans came not from a bank, but from 49 individual supporters—a continuation of the patron program that has kept Borderlands from closing since 2015.
Over two years ago, Borderlands owner Alan Beatts was facing the imminent closing of the store as a result of the minimum wage increase in San Francisco. However, the community brainstormed a temporary solution: If they could get at least 300 sponsors to pay $100 each, they would be able to keep the doors open for another year. They reached that goal of 300 in less than two days, with more than 800 patrons coming forward. But while the sponsorship ensured that Beatts and Borderlands had a surplus, the threat of rising rents inspired him to turn toward purchasing property instead of leasing.
“I think that we succeeded because we were clear on our goal and willing to consider any ethical way of accomplishing it,” Beatts told Mission Local, which has been reporting on Borderlands’ status since the first announcement in 2015.
Hence the nearly $2 million raised in just 18 days. Borderlands will buy the building at 1373 Haight Street, though it’s unclear how soon the bookstore would move from its current location on Valencia Street, in the Mission, as there are three years left on that lease. Mission Local said that Beatts may rent the space—currently occupied by Recycled Records, which is set to move out once the sale is finalized—to another business in the interim. Beatts had also previously suggested that the building could be used as a writer-in-residence program down the line, depending on whether the upstairs tenants remain or move out.
November 3 marks Borderlands Books’ 20th anniversary; the bookstore will celebrate on November 18.