Powell's Books Has 'Bullish Perspective'

Like many booksellers, sales at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., rose during the pandemic but are now below pre-pandemic levels. Still, the bookseller is optimistic about the future, and will soon introduce a new website and has taken out a $4.5 million loan that will be used to make a variety of improvements, according to the Portland Business Journal.

"We've got a bullish perspective on where we're going," CEO Patrick Bassett said.

Owner Emily Powell added, "We are addressing deferred maintenance, day-to-day needs, and working to elevate the experience of our bookstores for everyone. We are not ready to discuss the details at this time, but we welcome more discussions in the future."

The revamped website will likely launch this summer. Without revealing details, Bassett told the Journal, "We have been working for the last couple years on re-platforming our e-commerce... We've got a new website hopefully coming out this summer, and we think that's going to provide customers a much better experience." In the 1990s, Powell's was one of the first booksellers to sell extensively online.

The store's loan was secured by the Powell's warehouse, which was the site last weekend for a wildly popular sale that aimed to clear out extra inventory accumulated during the pandemic. Deep discounts attracted thousands of people, some of whom waited for hours to get into the building.

Bassett told the Journal: "We wanted to clear the shelves [of] some of the stuff that hadn't been selling over the last handful of years and make room for some good stuff... Close to 40,000 units sold."

It was apparently the first time Powell's opened its warehouse for a sale, and so successful that Powell's will likely repeat the event.

"With that kind of turnout, we'll have to figure out some way of doing something like this again," Bassett said. "We have certainly learned a lot about how to make this a much better experience for all, even if there are long lines. We're excited for next year already."

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