In Decatur, Ga., Little Shop of Stories is closed to customers. Owner Diane Capriola and her team are taking phone and online orders, as well as providing local delivery and curbside pickup. Capriola reported that the store's phones are ringing "off the hook" when they open at 10 a.m., and many of her customers are looking for personalized recommendations for their children and themselves. The store is now also streaming storytime sessions on Facebook Live four times per week.
Capriola said she has "an amazing team of passionate and smart booksellers," who have all stepped up during the crisis. She noted that her team is especially tight, and things have been so frantic and busy that they haven't been able to connect as they normally would during the course of a workday. To make up for it, Capriola is baking them a lot of cookies.
When asked about the PPP and any other relief programs, Capriola said she's applied for pretty much everything available to her. She added that the PPP application process was easier and more streamlined than she had imagined it would be, but she is concerned that it may not be enough. She and her team launched a GoFundMe campaign recently, raising nearly $40,000 of its $150,000 goal, and as she looks beyond May, she is feeling especially nervous. The cancellation of her spring book fairs, author events and school visits caused an "unrecoverable loss of revenue" and the store's summer camp program is in jeopardy.
In addition to the storytime sessions on Facebook Live, Little Shop of Stories has started an Instragram Live program called Give Me QuaranTEN, which is a series of fun, fast-paced interviews with authors and illustrators. She also hopes to coordinate with publishers and local schools to provide virutal author visits to students stuck at home.
On a positive note, Capriola said it feels like the store is having "a bit of a George Bailey moment." The communty support has been heartwarming and encouraging, and all of the authors and illustrators streaming content on social media for children at home makes her "really, really, really happy." She said she was grateful to work in an industry that is "so dedicated to caring for children and teens, in good times and in bad."
According to store owner Vicki Burger, Wind City Books in Casper, Wyo., is under a stay-at-home request, and she and her team have full access to the store. She makes sure to keep fewer than 10 people in the store at a time, which she noted is not difficult because it's not the holiday shopping season. The store is offering local delivery, curbside pickup and direct-to-home ordering. Her staff are all working their usual number of days, although the store has cut daily hours from 10-6 to 10-4.
Burger reported that she has applied for the PPP and received it, saying that it was very easy as she worked through the store's bank. She and her team have not been doing any online or virtual events. She added that the silver lining in all of this has been the community's understanding of the impact the crisis is having on the business, and their desire to support the store through it all.
The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass., reached its $60,000 GoFundMe goal, and last Friday owner Joan Grenier told the Republican she had spent the day paying bills.
"I know I wouldn't have made it without this," she said. "The numbers just were not going to work. I know it's still going to be difficult.... We are in much better shape than we were. But here it is April 17 and we know there will be more bills."
Reopening the store depends upon state regulations and on the coronavirus. "It's a whole new world. We are all trying to figure out the future. Will people feel like they have disposable income?" said Grenier, who has brought back about half of her staff and now has six people working, including three dedicated to filling online orders, as well as arranging online author events, including video presentations from local authors.
Odyssey normally serves students and visitors to nearby Mount Holyoke College, but the campus is closed and commencement has been canceled, the Republican noted, adding that "the students accepted for the fall won't be visiting campus, and shopping, over this spring. Instead Grenier anticipates being open in June and July when business is historically a little slow."
"It's like Where's Waldo, but better!" Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind., noted. "Every day when the boxes and boxes of books arrive, we pile them in the back room, where our hardworking owner Beth receives them all, wiping them down. And then we play Where's Beth! Can you find her?"
Posted on Facebook by Zenith Bookstore, Duluth, Minn.: "The store might look quiet on the outside, but inside we are bustling with activity as we fill orders, answer phone calls and build mystery boxes! Books and reading are essential, and we are so grateful for your support!"