Friday, October 13, 2017

Sponsor Letter, October 13th 2017

My Dear Sponsors,

I have some very exciting news.  On Monday I submitted an offer to buy the building on Haight Street that I've been talking about.  And, on Wednesday morning, the offer was accepted.  It's possible we're going to have a permanent home for Borderlands!

The Building
Located just a bit east of Masonic Ave, the building is a three story Victorian built in 1902.  There are two large flats upstairs and a retail space on the ground floor.  There is also a backyard and a full basement.  It's a little bit smaller that our current spot but, by putting the office and storage in the basement and being smarter with the layout, I think we can fit all our current stock and more.  Sadly, there is no room to accommodate the cafe. (Please note -- that does not mean I'm planning on closing the cafe.  More on that later.)

The address of the store is 1373 Haight.  If you try to look at it on Google street view, the place that pops up is actually across the street so "turn" south.  Currently it's the location of Recycled Records but, when we move, we're not going to displace them.  The owner of the record shop owns the building and he's planning on retiring.  He'll be closing up shop and moving out shortly after the sale closes.  He's still open for now so, if you'd like to take a look at the place, you can.  But, if you decide to visit, please don't worry about the condition of the interior -- both the bookstore and the cafe were in much, much worse shape when we arrived.  When we're done, it will be beautiful.

The Catch
Here's the catch -- I need to raise a lot of money if this is going to happen.  Due to the price and having a very low down payment, the lenders that I've spoken to are not interested in financing the purchase.  So, I'm going to need personal loans for a significant portion of the price.  Having started on Monday to raise the money, I already have $265,000.  But I need to raise . . . $1,900,000 in total.

I don't know if this is going to be possible but I believe it is worth trying.  We have, including today, 19 days to get the money.  After 19 days, I cannot cancel the deal without losing our deposit.

On one hand, I think it's ridiculous for me to think that achieving this is even within the realm of possibility.

On the other hand, two and a half years ago, I was just about positive that we were going to close the shop.  If someone had told me what would happen when we started the sponsor program, I would have thought they were completely nuts.

I was talking with someone last night about this deal and they asked me if I was freaking out about it.  I realized that I wasn't.  There have been a few times in my life when it just didn't matter whether I succeeded or failed.  All that mattered was that I act with a clear mind and follow the course that I had set.  This is one of those times.

If we succeed, we will have removed the greatest obstacle that exists to my dream of creating a bookstore that can last and last and last.  On second thought, perhaps I should say, "our dream".

You're a sponsor because you want Borderlands to continue to exist.  In the 20 years that I've been in business, rent has steadily trended upwards in San Francisco.  If we don't ensure the cost of our location -- we will have to close at some point.  I don't know when it will be but I'm sure it will happen.  Only by owning it ourselves can we rely on the physical space which we must have to exist.

The Loan
So, let's give it a try, shall we?

I'm looking for lenders who can offer loans of $100,000 or more.  If you're one of those people, let me know by replying to this note or emailing me directly at

I'm flexible on the terms of the loan.  But I do have a rough outline of what is most desirable (and, I know what's impossible).  To give a decent return on a (relatively) small amount while also keeping the expense in the range that we can manage, I've been thinking of 3% interest.  To allow a reasonable amount of time to get our feet under us, a term of 9 years would be nice.  Paying interest-only makes the bookkeeping easy as well as suiting some other factors.  But, to be absolutely clear: none of that is set, including the interest rate.  I would take a lower rate and I'm willing to talk about higher rates.  In short, if you would be willing to consider that loan under terms that are to be determined, please get in touch and let's discuss it.  We've gotten this far by being imaginative and talking about ideas, it would be dumb to stop now.

If you would be interested in lending but have a smaller amount in mind, I appreciate that very much.  For now however, I'm trying to keep the total number of loans down by asking for a higher amount.  That may change as things move along.

The Last Word
I'm sure that you have a lot of questions:  When would we move?  How are you going to manage the upkeep?  What are the apartments upstairs like?  How has the process been so far? and so on.  I was going to write a big, long note that would try to answer all that stuff but I decided not to do that.  The important thing is to get the word out and start finding the loans.

So, instead of writing a enormous missive tonight, I'm going to spread all the info out over the next couple of weeks.  I normally don't send out more than one email per month but this is a special situation.  I figure you'd like to know how we're progressing so I'm going to be writing frequently until either the deal goes through or the deal dies.  (If frequent emails are bugging you, please don't unsubscribe -- just drop a note to sponsors@borderlands-books asking us to stop pestering you.  We'll temporarily remove you from the email list.)

The Real Last Word
If you have a personal policy of not lending money.
Or, if that sort of amount is completely out of your reach (it sure as hell would be for me, personally).
Or, if you think that what I'm doing is just a bad idea.
Or, . . . any of the thousands of reasons that you can't or won't make a loan.

Please, don't feel badly.  You sponsored Borderlands.  You and your compatriots are the only reason we're still around.  You've already done so much for us, we feel gratitude of a magnitude that we can't express.  There is no need to do more, unless you wish to and it is safe for you to do so.

Warm Regards,

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