Slow Learners on the Left

Some days—actually most days now that I think about it—the left hands you an easy win. Take the case of Book Culture, a four-location independent bookseller in New York City. Book Culture enjoys a reputation as a progressive bookstore, a certified outlet for all the literary needs of the wokerati. Trouble is, Book Culture is about to go under.

Why? I’ll let them explain it:

“Our four stores are in danger of closing soon and we need financial assistance or investment on an interim basis to help us find our footing. This is true in spite of the fact that business has been good and we are widely supported and appreciated,” [owner Chris Doeblin] wrote. “In the last 30 months the payroll costs for Book Culture have risen by 50% and it has been difficult to adapt quickly enough. We have now made the structural changes to our company and the cuts that will allow us to move ahead profitably once we find the financial resources we need.”

Now, why might their payroll costs have risen by 50 percent? What could possible explain this. It’s a complete mystery. Oh, wait. . .

Doeblin blamed payroll cost increases on the city’s minimum wage raise, which he says increased hourly wages for his employees “from $10 to $15.25 since December 2016” and forced him to initiate layoffs and reorganizing.

But but but—I was told minimum wage hikes would have no effect on businesses! You mean mandated higher payroll costs might make some businesses unviable? And how could a progressive outfit like Book Culture have had a clear conscience about paying a miserable $10 an hour before the mandate?

What remedy does Book Culture propose? A free labor market perhaps? Silly me. Of course you know the answer: government subsidies.

Doeblin explained to Gothamist what he believes the business needs to survive, and his larger ambitions to try to help other small businesses stay alive in an ever-changing city: “I think we need at least $500K in a term loan but I hope to find $750K to a $1M,” he said. “I would like the city to immediately [guarantee] such a loan and then embark on a serious plan to improve the odds of small business in New York. I would like to be on that panel too, because there is a lack of creative optimistic thinking and action.”

Here’s a serious plan: turn a profit, or close up.

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