Due to the COVID-19 order from the Governor’s Office on Monday the 23rd, our storefront will be closed for on-site business for now. In line with the Governor’s communication, we are planning on reopening our doors at noon on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020, and resuming normal hours from there. If the advice or orders from government are changed, we will update our plans and blog here accordingly. The government’s latest, as of now, is at:
Please pardon if, for a while, we lead with this, as it’s typically the most vital information for our customers here at the moment…looking to see what we’re doing.
Having covered those vital particulars, including making the information a little more exact, let’s cover some more things.
First, we need you. That’s not just saying ABSW needs you, but the book trade needs you. Real bookstores need you. When we are allowed again to resume as much as possible a normal standard of operation, if customers aren’t there, business ceases. As you are looking after your families during this incredible situation, look also after their futures. Smaller businesses are much harder hit and much more vulnerable in difficult situations, though their direct impact is usually more vital for people and families. In fact, some larger businesses will profit greatly, especially those who compete with storefronts, even more those whose teams secure government money for them that we probably will never see. But, the assumption they can offer options we can’t is often just wrong, though it’s easy to make, as they continue to have the money to advertise on line and convince you not to wait, to buy there. You don’t have to wait to buy here, but we just don’t have the money to tell everyone in all the same ways as they might. The competition we provide, the knowledge we bring, has less chance in this situation where the moneyed get their voices heard. When you think about resuming a normal life as soon as possible, support your local stores and your local bookstores, especially. We are certain our customers are a smart breed, and all we ask is to do something you’re already good at doing: stop a moment and think. What can we do for you now? What can we do for you after this emergency is over? Will you be there when we re-open, trying to be there again for you? It matters.
Second, all of us are trying our best to figure out what is “best” in this situation. There are certainly many experts out there offering opinions. COVID-19 is certainly real. Those it has reached are describing a very nasty disease. Even after a point where we are allowed to return to selling books at our storefront, if you feel concerned about venturing out, we respect your concerns and we will do something we have done in this business for about a decade, and have done in our other venture now for more than 43 years. We will do mail order for you. Call or e-mail and let us help you get you what you want, sent to you. Talk to humans, unlike some bigger stores that actually make that difficult or impossible. Get personal attention. We’ve always been here to help in this way. It’s already part of what we do.
Third, let us thank you, too. For being with us as owners of this bookstore for about 10 years, for getting us this far, for those who discovered us recently or are about to do so, for sharing your interests, your concerns, your ideas, while also giving us your custom, thank you. We hope to still be here for a very long time to come. But, as we look around and we all know today what we see is not strictly normal, nor anything approaching it, and as we all discuss how we all will try to get our normal lives back, bring this topic into your discussions, please. Again, not just for this bookstore, or your local one if you live far away, but local businesses. As grateful as we are, and should be, we still need you in the future if we are to continue, to return to normal, to be part of a community we are dedicated to support as we already have.
In support of the community, we have already donated on the order of 1000 books, perhaps a little more, to charities in 2020. We have donated books during every year of our operation, and while we really don’t try to keep a count, we think it’s easily 5000 or more books a year, every year. We pledge to continue this as long as we operate. We’ve had a unique privilege in running a bookstore in the center of New England. We try to be a community resource, and even if turning the wheels and running the operation takes a lot of hours every week, we hope we’re also doing our part.
In the meantime, as we’ve tried to say before and should repeat again, we can still sell to you now. We just can’t do it at the store. Call and e-mail. Let a real person get back to you, or talk to you directly if we’re able to handle your call as it comes in. There’s even another advantage…you can do that 24 hours a day! You can continue to support us as a local business even through this situation. We just can’t do the transaction across the counter for now, can’t have you browsing the store. We all have to let things pass. That’s actually the law.
Finally, in understanding something larger about the community, and how difficult this sudden transition from good times to bad ones is, we already know we have to prepare for it to take time to approach normalcy again. In our community, some have lost their jobs, and it’s not an easy time to get a new job and get back on your feet. In doing our part, we try always to be affordable, to do something special. We also understand how neighbors may feel shut out by the situation. We know how this impacts families. At the very least, we’re going to try to hold events again when the situation permits. Almost all of our store events are free. Some are for kids, and allow families to do something together without breaking the bank, or even touching it. Some are with favorite authors, interesting ones, new ones, established ones, ones you can get to meet and talk to directly, because it’s what we do. There are reading groups, fan groups, game groups, knitting groups, art groups, and all sorts of things we try to do as a community resource. Almost all of it is free, and open to the public. We’re trying to be a part of the community, not curators of a museum. A good bookstore knows books are more alive than that, so it’s only the exceptional cases where there’s a higher price tag, and only because we sometimes must pay a higher price ourselves to bring in some special items. We’re trying as a business to bring good value and selection, but we’re also trying to bring a little bit of the public square into our store so we can all share it. If times are good, join us and share. If times are suddenly difficult for you, we’ll do what we can so the dollar signs don’t make a tough time even worse. Come to an event or two, and we’ll see what events the future will hold. And, if you’re an author and want to come to our store, or if you have an idea to run an event, talk to us, please!
In posting information here, on a business blog site, we know on some level this is advertising, and often gets to be about costs…how much we charge for what we do, and how we’ll do it. But, in trying to be a community resource, what’s always more important is remembering that community. As things recover…and they will recover…please remember us and all the local businesses that are part of this community. Time passes, and the only certainty is change. But, some things are best not to change. In working with the Worcester community, we hope to stay for a long time yet to come, and look forward to seeing you there with us, soon.