Monday, November 13, 2017

Sponsor Letter, November 13th 2017

Hello Dear Sponsors,

First off, thank you for being patient with my recent silence (although, given how I have been flooding your mail boxes over the past month, you might have enjoyed the break).  After the combination of going a month without a day off, being out of town at the World Fantasy Convention, and then catching up on everything that I had let slide over the last month (bookkeeping, for one) . . . well, let's just say I needed a little breather.

Before I dive into the current building news, let me catch you up on our upcoming events.  Right now we've only a few scheduled -

Saturday, November, 18th, 10 am to 11 pm (yup, you read the time right) - Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party (and Sponsor Social) - All the details are at the end of this note but the short version is:
Noon to 6 pm - Author signings galore (including folks like Gail Carriger, Richard Kadrey, and Peter Beagle) plus staff recommended books at cost, cake, and DJ Steve Boyett.
6 pm to 7 pm - We'll be setting up for the social but you're welcome to hang out.
7pm to 11 pm - Sponsor Social!  Indian food to die for, lotsa drinks, more DJ, silly stories from Alan, door prizes, much talk of Haight Street and world domination.
11 pm to ??? - If you're still standing (I don't need to be standing -- Jude's got a wheelbarrow for me), close-down drinks across the street at the Phoenix Pub.

Tuesday, November 28th at 7 pm - Sponsor Cocktails at Churchill
We're continuing our Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) <http://www.churchillsf.com/>; some combination of us will be there from at least 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm.  No need to RSVP and any number of guests and friends are welcome.  The bar is INCREDIBLY convenient to public transit -- the MUNI Metro Underground (via F, K, L, and M lines at Church Street,) and J and N lines stop less than a block away.

Sunday, December 10th, 2 pm to 6 pm - Dickens Fair
We're going to Dickens Fair as a group <https://dickensfair.com>.  We've arranged group tickets for $20 per person and there's no limit to the number of people who can come so please feel free to bring friends, family, children, strangers you met at the bar last night, and so on.  If you'd like to come, please drop us a line by replying to this email and include the number of people you will be bringing.  We'll get back to you and make arrangements for pre-payment for the tickets.  Look for car-pooling information in the next sponsor note.

In the next sponsor note I'll have the schedule of events for the first part of next year, details about sponsorship renewals, mail order information for anniversary hoodies and lots of other news.  But for now, we still need to work out all those details.

Now, some news about our new building.  First off, it's paid for and escrow will close on Tuesday.  I've got a long piece explaining where we go from here in the store newsletter, which I'll be sending out shortly after (or, perhaps, before) this note.  Something that I'm not mentioning in the newsletter is that we've got an official building historian and he's been damn busy over the past few weeks.

Zach Harper has been a sponsor since the very beginning (and part of the first 300 -- #260 to be precise).  He got interested in finding out a bit about the history of 1377 Haight St. and did a bit of digging.  And then he caught the city-history bug (something that afflicts Jude and I, BTW).  He's still working on the previous occupants of the building but he's got an awful lot of the history nailed down already.  You can see his work thus far at -https://docs.google.com/document/d/1K6LYhBN0A3cvqvldjvTbeUPopjlOxEubYENKp12hlrc/edit?usp=sharing .  It's so cool what he's found -- from the original advertisement when the lot was sold at auction through the old Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and even bios of the owners and the architect.  We are still very short on historic pictures of the place so, if you run across any, drop me a line and I'll pass them along to him.

In other building news, I'm going to be hanging around the place this Thursday, November the 16th, from 4 pm to 8 pm.  If you'd like to come down, take a look at the space, say hi, and chat with me about layout and future plans -- I'd love to see you and show off our new House on the Borderland.  The address is 1377 Haight St. and it's just east of Masonic Avenue.

I'm really looking forward to seeing you, either at the building, at the party, or at Dickens Fair.  We really do have an awful lot to celebrate!

All Best,
Alan

Complete Anniversary Party Details

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th, 10 am to 6 pm - We're celebrating two decades of bookselling with an all-day party.  At noon, the store will open to the general public and the fun really starts.  We'll have a rotating lineup of some of our favorite local authors signing their work in half-hour blocks. The schedule is:

12:00 pm: Dana Fredsti, Nick Mamatas, Megan E. O'Keefe, and Tim Pratt; 1:00 pm: Peter S. Beagle, Michael Blumlein, Becca Gomez Farrell, and Nancy Jane Moore; 2:00 pm: Richard Kadrey, Ellen Klages, and Pat Murphy; 3:00 pm: Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz; 4:30 pm: Cara Black and Kelli Stanley; 5:00 pm: Steve Boyett & Ken Mitchroney, Gail Carriger, and Katherine Kerr.

Also, as long as supplies last, we'll have our staff's selection of their all-time favorite books for sale at our cost as a "thank you" for 20 wonderful years of bookselling.  Last but not least, we'll be unveiling our limited edition anniversary hoodie featuring a lovely design by Michelle Rapp.  It's right on time for the chilly season and would make a great holiday present for the booklover in your life.

At four, the music starts, courtesy of DJ Steve Boyett of Groovelectric and Podrunner fame - http://www.groovelectric.com (since there's going to be music, we might just have to start our afternoon cocktails around then, too).  Also at four there will be an extraordinary cake, thanks to the incomparable Madeleine Robins.

Then come 6 pm we'll be closing early to get ready for our last sponsor party of 2017.  We hope you'll join us for an incredible day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Building Update #10 - Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Hi Everyone,

We've finished negotiations about the price reduction on the building.  There was a little back and forth but not as much as I expected.  Thanks to the fast work of Diarmuid MacNiell and Jon Fitzgibbon, we had estimates for a total of roughly $115,000 of repair work.  Specifically; repairing the retaining wall in the backyard, sorting out the funky framing in the basement, doing a soft-story retrofit, and replacing the roof.

The negotiation was pretty fast since two of those items we knew about going in (the roof and the soft-story).  It would be pretty disingenuous to say that we hadn't considered those costs when we made our offer and so we started asking for $70,000 off.  With a little back-and-forth, we settled for $41,000 off the agreed price.  Since the two things we didn't know about going in (the basement and the retaining wall) were estimated at at total of $42,000, I think we did pretty well.  I might have been happier with an extra thousand dollars but, when we're doing a two-million-plus dollar deal, $1000 is kind of small change.  I didn't think it was worth fighting over.

So, excluding closing costs, the final price was $2,259,000.  And that feels really darn good.  It also means we've got a bit of a surplus since we were aiming for a $100,000 repairs budget and now we've got $141,000.  I think that the best plan is to get the repairs done and then see where we stand.  I expect that I'll use the surplus to pay off some loans early but we'll see how things shake out once the hammers hit the nails.

The most exciting thing is that all the contingencies have been removed as of this evening.  Since those are the only ways out of the deal for both the buyer and the seller, with them taken care of it's just a matter of finishing the escrow period and then were done.  Translation -- there isn't any work left to do (other than lots of planning) and it's very unlikely that anything is going to happen at this point to derail the deal.

I'm going to be talking with the seller to see if we can close sooner.  There isn't an advantage to taking a longer time and, the sooner it's closed, the sooner we can get in there and start working.  I'll probably need to give the seller more time to get his stuff out of the place (since it's reasonable to figure that he planned on being out based on the original closing date) but that won't stop us from tearing out ivy, cleaning up the basement, getting measurements taken and plans drawn up.

It's all coming together very nicely.

Which is good; because I'm on a plane tomorrow at 7 am for San Antonio and the World Fantasy Convention.  I'll be back in town Monday night and back at work on Tuesday.  If you're going to the convention, make sure you let me know and I'll get you an invitation to our Sponsors' Scotch tasting on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm.

Since I'll be at the convention and running around quite a bit, please forgive me if I'm less responsive than usual to email.  Scott Cox is coming along and so he'll be a bit slow in the email department as well.

Thank you all for everything you've done for Borderlands over the years.  Day after tomorrow will be exactly 20 years to the day since I opened the shop's doors in Hayes Valley.  It's been a hell of a trip and I'm looking forward to the next 20 years with unbridled hope and excitement.  At the beginning of 2015, I never imagined that we'd all be here and doing this.

All Best,
Alan

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Building Update #9 - WE DID IT!

As of about 60 minutes ago, we had enough funds in the bank to pay for the building.  I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am about this.  It truly is a dream come true.

More than that though -- we've shown our city, our field, and the world what is possible.  A few days ago I was talking with one of our lenders in the office. He thanked me for changing the way that people look at the world and expanding what people believe is possible.  I was surprised and kind of embarrassed by the sentiment.  I'm not some big deal mover-and-shaker; I'm just a guy who likes to sell books.

But then I thought about it a bit and pointed out to him that I didn't do that.  We all did.  My part was suggesting that the world could be different and that something kind of crazy might be possible.  You all, our sponsors and the folks who lent us money and those that supported us in a hundred other ways, too -- you're the people who changed how people can look at the world and you expanded the idea of what is possible.  And I would expect no less from lovers of speculative and fantastic literature.

First, you did it by being sponsors and allowing us to continue to operate.  Then you proved that idea wasn't just a one-shot, flash-in-the-pan but that it was a viable idea for the long term (we have more sponsors this year than last year; the program is growing, not shrinking).  Those things were the basis and foundation that gave me the confidence and hope to try what we just accomplished.

And we did this:  49 lenders in total, $1.9 million dollars, in 18 days.

Thank you all for making a dream come true and showing just how powerful a like-minded, reasonable group of people can be.

Warmest Regards,
Alan

PS  There is one other group that deserves credit for what we've done -- the staff at the Bookstore and Cafe.  They are so good at what they do that I hardly had to think about work for the past 18 days.  Further, they are the people who truly give shape to Borderlands.  I'd just be a lonely guy in a tiny bookshop without them.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Building Update #8 - Right Down to the Wire

Funds on Deposit - $1,777,500              Days Left - 1

Hello,

Of course this whole thing had to end up with a photo-finish.  And, of course, this couldn't end on any day other than Halloween.  I mean really . . . why did any of us think otherwise?

As you can see above, we are really, truly, awful goddam close.  But we're not quite there yet.

I fully expect that I'll see one or two deposits at the bank tomorrow that will take us right across the $1.8 million line.  As soon as I see them, I'll let you all know.

If I don't see those deposits, don't worry.  I'm not going to let a measly $22,500 stop us after we've raised so much.  That figure can be covered by the deposit reserve that I have at the store.  It can also probably be covered if all of us at the bookstore clean out our rainy-day reserves.  There are a dozen ways we can raise that in time.

But, dammit, I really hoped to be writing a different note today.

However, see my comment above -- it kind of had to work out this way.

As a good friend often says, "Now that's out of the way, how about a bright, shiny change of topic?"

What Do We Do First?
Dan, our realtor, asked me a couple days ago, "So, once escrow is closed and Bruce has his stuff out of there, what's the first thing you're going to do?"

In reply, I asked, "Do you mean in general or with the retail space?"

He chuckled and said he was asking about the retail space.

"First off, a lotta people, a lotta beer, a lotta whisky, and probably some pizza," was my answer.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Building Update #7

Funds on Deposit - 1,692,500              Days Left - 4

Greetings and Salutations,

You may notice that I've changed the heading at the top of this note from "Funds Raised" to "Funds on Deposit".  The reason for that is we're really in the final days of this gig and it's reached a point where it doesn't matter what people have promised us -- the only thing that matters, for the sake of this project, is what is in the bank come Halloween.  So, rather than including what people have said they're going to do, the number at the top of this note is only what is on deposit.  Don't worry though, we're not out of time by any means.  Even though today was the last day that I said would work for deposits, at the time I said I was allowing for a margin of error.  We've still got four days.  Wire transfers and cashiers checks will still be credited in time, even if they are wired (or handed off to me, for the checks), as late as the morning of the 31st.

Now that I've gotten the doom and gloom out of the way, here's the good news -- I'm almost sure we're gonna have the money in time.

I believe we're gonna get that building.

Building Update #6 - Very Close

Funds Raised - $1,622,500     Days Remaining - 4

Hello All,

Are you getting nervous?  I am, sort of.  We're very damn close to making it.  Remember, I'm aiming for $1,900,000 to allow $100,000 for closing costs, build out and repairs. We can close the deal at $1.8 million.  Which is $177,500 from where we are now.

I'm talking to a couple of people who might be able to do some bigger loans but I'm not going to hear from them 'till tomorrow.  Well, 'til Friday, which is technically today.  If I don't hear from them then, we might be able to come to an agreement on Saturday or Sunday but the funds can't move until Monday, when we have two days left.  That'll make for a nervous weekend, eh?

But, here's the thing -- even if we don't pull it off this time, there'll be another building, and we've proven that we can raise over one and a half million dollars in less than three weeks.

One.  And.  A.  Half.  Million.  Dollars.

That's a hell of an accomplishment and it'll serve us well if we have to do this again.

But I'm hoping we don't need to do this again.  Honestly, I feel optimistic.  We've done so much in the past week and we've got a whole weekend and two days ahead of us. Plus, I've still got a few tricks up my sleeves.  Something that both my former profession and 20 years in this business has taught me is to have a back-up plan . . . and a back-up for that . . . and a back-up for the second back-up.  Right now, we're still working on the primary plan, which is the one with the best overall outcome.  But it's not the only plan.

Anyway, enough about that.  Last word is this -- if you're on the fence, now's the time to decide if you want to make a loan.  And, if you've talked with me about a loan and haven't finished off the deal, get in touch and let's get finished -- I'm totally fine with, "We thought about it and we decided that it's not a good idea" but, not knowing where we stand is kind of hard.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Building Update #5

Funds Raised - $1,422,500     Days Remaining - 7

Hey Everyone,

OK.  Much better rested than last night but I've got to run out of here fast because I'm meant to be at Churchill pretty much . . . now.

You're all wondering about the inspections.  First off, they went well.  We had general building and sewer inspections plus a roofer came in to give a bid for replacing the roof (no surprise -- the roof does need to be replaced, but we expected that).

The general building inspector was the best I've ever seen.  His name is James Hicks and he is one of the partners at H.R. Wellington Construction.  He's been a builder for years and he's qualified to do both general and pest inspections.  He's also a medic and does volunteer search and rescue work, so we hit it off like a house-a-fire.

Bottom line is that it's a 1902 building with all that goes with it.  A little bit of dry rot on the siding, old breaker panels (not hard to replace and not urgent), and so forth.  The only two notable things were that the framing in the basement (that I mentioned to you all before) is, in fact, a bit funkier than I thought.  It looks like the job of abating dry-rot that was done is the 1970s wasn't top-notch and probably needs some fixing.  On the other hand, it didn't look like anything had moved much since that job was done, so this isn't one of those situation where a wall is tilting and going to keep tilting 'til it's fixed (or falls over).  But, it is a big enough thing that I think we'll be talking with the seller about a price reduction to make up for it.

The other thing that he called out was that there are some cracks in the retaining walls in the backyard.  There's a big tree that belongs to one of the neighbors that is right up against the wall and may be pushing on it.