From Mission Local:
Nearly a dozen local bookstores received a special gift from the city on Tuesday morning — $103,000 in total grant money to help them through a time when books can be delivered to one’s door at the click of a mouse.
And that’s exactly why the funding is so important, says Joaquin Torres, the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “There’s nothing online that can recreate the experience of walking into a bookstore — the art you see on the walls, the performances that take place, the cultural conversations,” he said.
. . . .
The money is part of the Bookstore SF Program, a pet project of the late Mayor Ed Lee, aimed at funding bookstore “revitalizations” that emphasize their roles as social hubs rather than simply places to purchase reading material.
. . . .
According to OEWD, there are 57 independent bookstores in San Francisco that together generate more than $9.8 million in sales, create and retain more than 100 jobs, host more than 40 free community events each month, and have been in business for an average of 21 years.
. . . .
Smith told the small crowd that he was considering closing his store in January. But, in the end, he decided to stick it out, and did so with the help of this loyal customers. Smith, in fact, started a Patron drive and apparently received enough to keep him going. For him, the city grant only added to his customer support.
“Some of my customers have been with me for the entire nine years (I’ve been in business),” he said. “That sort of loyalty and interest in reading on a regular basis is really powerful.”
. . . .
Razo had other exciting news: that Dog Eared would be opening yet another location — albeit a very small one — within the new social-justice-oriented cafe, Manny’s, soon opening at 16th and Valencia.
Speaking about the grant money, Razo, who has been running bookstores in San Francisco since the ‘80s, said: “I never thought I’d see the day where the city says, “‘Hey, here’s a check.’”
Link to the rest at Mission Local and thanks to Dave for the tip.
PG did a little math (actually, his Excel spreadsheet did the math, but PG punched in the numbers) and determined that if, per the OP, 57 San Francisco bookstores generate $9.8 million in sales (PG presumes annually), the annual sales of a single bookstore average $171,929.82 per year.
Due to massive tech-driven gentrification, San Francisco has become one of the highest living costs of any metro area in the world. According to Smart Asset, average monthly rent on a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $4,650 (to save you the math, that’s $55,800 per year). In Q1 of 2018, the median San Francisco home price is $1.61 million (it’s doubled in the last five years). San Francisco’s healthcare costs are about 20% higher than the US average. Grocery prices are about 50% higher than the US average, etc., etc., etc.
Generally, bookstores need a gross margin of 40% to be profitable (the bookstore acquires a book for $12 and sells it for $20). A 40% gross margin on sales of $171,929.82 (the average annual sales of the 57 bookstores described above) is $68,771.93. That’s before rent, utilities, salaries, etc.
In 2016, the median household income in California as a whole is $67,739. The median household income in San Francisco is $84,160.
It sound to PG that the independent bookstores are marginal businesses these days and their employees are working at the ultimate dead-end job that leaves them impoverished and likely dependent upon government assistance. And the Bookstore SF program is designed to allow them to continue in an economically unstable state for a few months or years more.