The “new normal” has given us all a challenge in having to handle a lot of information. We hope all our readers and customers will bear with us as we try here to communicate what is a lot of information here as best we can, largely in chronological order. Our customers have been calling and asking a lot of questions, and this is our best effort to give an update that will inform and answer as many of those questions to day as possible.
Like many of you, we at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester were awaiting today’s update from Governor Baker, since he has said he would make certain information available on Monday, May 18th, based on the determination of the Reopening Advisory Board.
His conference at 11AM today gave specific guidance as to how Massachusetts will reopen its economy…which is information that is still subject to change…but offers us better insight into how and when we can work to re-open our business, in stages. More is posted at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-four-phase-approach .
We want to anticipate how we might best serve our customers.
We are already open to do mail order, and ship to your door, anywhere in the world, regardless of this update. Call or e-mail us. We will carry on with this part of our operation beyond the COVID-19 emergency, and remain an option for customers concerned about venturing out too soon…and those who simply find it a more efficient way to shop.
Previous guidance we received from the City of Worcester told us we could already be open to do curbside pickup. That conflicts for our business with the State timetable, and we will not challenge that timetable. For now, the actual store is closed to customer traffic. Customer safety, as well of the health of everyone, is the primary concern.
But, as approved by the State of Massachusetts, as stated for Phase 1 of re-opening for retail shops, we will re-open to allow curbside pickup on Monday, May 25, 2020, during normal Springtime business hours. This will require arranging orders by phone or e-mail in advance, and will work best with payment by credit card in advance, but we will also accept payment by check at the time of pickup. Again, please write or call and arrange such orders in advance. And, be aware during this phase we are prohibited by law from having customers enter the store to transact business.
The next question we all still need to answer is “When does Phase 2 start?” The Massachusetts government web site says “Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer before moving to the next phase.” So, we know we will not enter Phase 2 any earlier than June 8, 2020. This will depend on how well we are fighting COVID-19, and a lot of other factors. It’s not “set in stone” at this point. We’ll keep you posted in this blog and elsewhere as well as we can. The State of Massachusetts has to tell us still on what date this will start. Phase 2 will allow “browsing inside the store with restrictions.” We still need more specific guidance, but we anticipate this will work best using appointments, giving customers and their families the run of the store for solid blocks of time. We’ll say more on this below.
Therefore, starting immediately, we will start taking customer names, with phone numbers and e-mail contact information, with the expectation of some initial reopening period where we could offer private appointments to one customer or one family at a time.
If this happens, it’s an opportunity to have the whole bookstore to yourself. Sit, read, browse, ask questions… your own store, all to yourself.
We will start taking your names immediately to anticipate Phase 2.
If the appointment-only system is something we use, we will start making phone calls from the top of the list, as soon as we feel it’s time, and giving all of you the chance to make this convenient for you. At that time, we’ll also communicate any limitations or restrictions we’re told to enforce. We simply need the State to tell us what date this can start.
We’ll basically take out an appointment book within our normal hours and work as much as we can with your schedules so you will have enough time to shop.
Phase 3 certainly still includes Social Distancing, and seems it will begin no earlier than June 29, 2020.
Phase 4, the last phase, still anticipates some Social Distancing as the “new normal,” and seems to start no earlier than July 20, 2020.
As stated on the State of Massachusetts web site, the state government reserves the right to take longer to reach the next stage, or to step backwards to earlier stages, as appropriate to care for the health and safety of all. We fully support those efforts.
We suspect an effective vaccine might change this timeline, but the reality of this situation is there is no firm guarantee we’ll see one on any given date. We’re trying to be safe and work to do our best in a difficult situation.
We also reserve the right to consider any special circumstances and use the appointment-only system rather than a full re-opening on an exact date suggested by the State of Massachusetts. But, we surely depend on their guidance to form decisions, and we will not open any facet of our business early in violation of the law.
Of course, we’re hoping the situation improves immediately, and we’re hoping there’s good reason not to need some of these plans. But, as your neighborhood store, we also know how important it is to be able to shop for your needs and those of your family. We’ll continue to do all we can to help.
We are still waiting for more details from the Governor’s Office before we can announce our guidelines and timing to resume donations and trade-in. We are planning on a dedicated day during which we can handle expanded quantities from our customers, but we do not yet know when we can announce that in full. For now, guidance on curbside pickup and mail order is the most we feel free to give for Phase 1, with the note that our web site has also been updated with special listings of new books, some with enhanced discounts sure to compete with pricing elsewhere.
As always, thank you for your patronage and support.
—-Patty and the staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester