January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

by Alan Beatts

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm lucky enough that the first part of this column hasn't changed much in the past seven years. 2005 was a good year for Borderlands, the staff and me personally. Everyone is healthy and happy. Business has been strong and our sales are up once again. We've made a few changes around the shop (though, regrettably a number of the suggestions that you made last year have yet to be put into place -- believe me, I'm not ignoring them, I'm just slow). One of the most recent changes has been a big reorganization of the shelves at the back of the store. Everything is still pretty much in the same place, but the shelves have been rearranged. Everyone seems to think that it looks much nicer plus the new arrangement leaves more room for browsing and our book club meetings.

As always, none of the good things that happened last year would have been possible without two groups of wonderful people. First, my staff -- Jude, Jeremy, Claud, Cary, Francis, and Heather together make up the best staff that any business owner could ask for and more than that, they are the finest group of people I've ever had the pleasure to know. Why they put up with me will be forever a mystery.

Second, you -- without our customers there would be no Borderlands Books. More importantly, if you were not such a pleasant, loyal, intelligent, well-read and flat-out great group of people, Borderlands would be a far paler, smaller, and poorer store. In fact, it quite possibility wouldn't be a store that I would have wanted to operate for seven plus years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the best job that I've ever had in my life.

I hope you enjoy being our customers as much as we like serving you because in 2006 you're going to have the chance to be our customers even more often. The big news for 2006 is that we're opening a cafe and news-stand right next door to the bookstore.

Ever since the beginning of 2005 (when I first heard that the owner of the upholstery shop next door was thinking of moving) I'd been thinking about taking the space when it became vacant. A number of ideas crossed my mind but the one I kept coming back to was a cafe. So, when the space opened up, I already had the outline of what to do with it.

The actual space is almost a mirror image of the bookstore except it's a bit narrower. I'm planning on setting it up as one large room with a smaller, more private space at the rear. In terms of food and drink, at least to start I'm going to be keeping it simple -- coffee, espresso, tea, bagels, pastry, and so forth. Once we get going, I'll be expanding the menu (at least in part based on feedback we get from you). I'm also planning on stocking a pretty extensive range of magazines catering to all interests. I've thought for years that the neighborhood needed a good news-stand.

One question that comes up frequently is, "Will there be a connecting door to the bookstore?" Due to building permit considerations there won't be, at least initially. We may put one in later. One big thing that the cafe will give us is a much larger, more open space for events. More space means significantly more seating and the ability to host more prominent authors. Anyone who has been to events like the Morbid Curiosity release party will appreciate how nice that will be.

The other question that often comes up is, "When are you going to be open?" Well . . . opening a cafe in SF involves quite a few permits and inspections. It's a much more complicated process than opening a bookstore. So, at this time I don't have a specific date, only a best case target -- the beginning of May. However, it may take even longer than that, depending on how the process goes. I'll be giving more updates as we go along but for now I can say with confidence that it'll be open this year. Beyond that, we'll just have to see.

Everyone at the store is very excited about this and I hope that you will be too. It's a big step for us but I believe that it will let us keep on doing what we've been doing for eight years -- serving the genre readers of the Bay Area.

No comments:

Post a Comment