Copperfield’s has been a family-run business for 42 years. We employ approximately 120 employees in our nine stores in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, which also includes a warehouse and our Headquarters. We have been “Creating Community together since 1981,” and we always try to live up to that expectation of community. We participate in local events, provide items for non-profit groups, create programs for school children, and host events at our stores and off-site. We are a true partner to the towns we call home.
About Our Employees
Copperfield’s in no way feels our employees are expendable or replaceable; in fact, we all feel very close with our teams. While we understand that not every employee will choose to stay long term, while they are with us as employees, we do our best to provide training and support -- things that will assist them wherever they choose to go and whatever they choose to do. We’ve had employees come back after they finish with college or after employment with other employers. Why? Because we believe that they have enjoyed their time working with us and want to continue with our team.
We also strive to support our Booksellers with any kind of workplace issue. We respond promptly and work hard to tailor the results of our effort to address concerns that are addressed to management. We are dedicated to support a healthy, comfortable, and fun working environment.
The Current Situation
We currently have a union organizing effort in our Petaluma store where a vote is being held on Friday.
For this reason, we wanted to provide some information to you. Why? Because a variety of perspectives are floating around on the internet and in print, some of which we consider to be inaccurate or incomplete.
Below we address some of the areas where we received questions and have statements about our company. We hope this provides some context for how we, as store management and ownership, feel about things.
While we respect our Petaluma employees' right to unionize, we strongly believe that the company will be just as good a place to work without the need for a union. We believe that management has continuously demonstrated care for our employees, and we think creating a division between Management and Booksellers may be detrimental to our team.
Ultimately it will be up to our employees to make this decision, and we respect their views and the democratic election process. If they do vote to unionize, we will negotiate in good faith.
Book Industry and Progress Over 30 Years
In the book industry we have some of the lowest margins of any industry, which is what we call "a closed margin system," meaning that the publisher sets both the discount price and the list price. So, as expenses have gone up, we haven’t been able to change our prices very much to help cover those expenses. This has been our situation for more than 30 years and it continues to this day. Copperfield’s has attempted to offset some of these financial challenges by diversifying our product mix to include gifts that aren’t controlled by publishers' pricing, but books remain our primary focus as a bookstore.
One of the other recent challenges that we’ve faced as a company is trying to adjust to rapidly increasing California minimum wages in all of our communities. Petaluma specifically had a $7.00 per hour increase for minimum wage in the last five years, bringing the minimum wage rate to $17.06 per hour, which represents one of the highest in the region.
Rent is another area that has been challenging for us in all of our stores. For example, the Petaluma store has had more than a 14% rent increase.
We are proud to have successfully navigated these challenges to remain in business where bigger stores have closed.
What Have We Done Lately
Over the years since Covid-19 began, we have given three different rounds of payments to our staff of up to $500.00 to help those who stayed with us in such difficult times. We also have been working on improving our benefits; for example, in 2022 we increased our dental benefits by 50% and we added a vision plan for the first time.
About Our Hiring
Some of our staff left voluntarily during Covid, but we re-hired every employee who wanted to come back. Like many small businesses, Copperfield's Books' sales were deeply affected by the pandemic. So as business slowly returned, we were gradually able to hire more new staff to match the flow of business. And we did work to accommodate the delayed return of previous employees based on their circumstances. Since 2020, we’ve hired eighteen new employees who are still in active status at our Petaluma store.
We have tried to respond to the many requests for comment from the press and others. Our goal here is to responsibly respond to all news outlets and others who want information from us about this developing story.
We will be posting updates as our situation develops!