A $10,000 GoFundMe drive set up earlier this month by supporters of Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, Phoenix, Ariz., is nearing its goal, with more than $8,000 raised thus far. Friends of Palabras launched the crowd-funder to help owner Rosaura "Chawa" Magaña cover operating expenses like rent, utilities and inventory at the store, which has been temporarily shuttered since mid-March due to the Covid-19 crisis.
"Creating a safe space is important to me personally because I have been in many spaces where I did not feel safe to share and I did not feel valued and respected," said Magaña. "Creating a space where the community can express themselves openly and honestly provides opportunities for healing and growth."
That approach inspired 22 people to sign a letter nominating Magaña for the Arizona Humanities 2020 Rising Star Award, which she'll receive during a ceremony later this year if public health conditions allow, New Times wrote.
Miriam Antonieta Carpenter-Cosand, another supporter who's working to help Palabras survive the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus, also wrote a nomination letter. She said that Palabras is "the only space where I feel confident to be myself and express my identity. It's really important that we keep this space open for everyone."
In a letter to customers, Connie Brooks, owner of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y., expressed gratitude for all the support the bookshop received during the Covid-19 lockdown. "We could not have made it through the past nine tumultuous weeks without your support," she wrote. "I took over the bookstore in 2009 at the height of the recession, then we made it through the launch of the Kindle and the closing of Borders, but this has been, without a doubt, the most challenging point in my tenure as owner of the bookstore. And yet, time and again, I am reminded of the importance of books to people's lives. To your lives! Our books have kept you company on this journey--they have transported you, provided solace, filled up downtime, and been a constant in a time of flux."
In terms of reopening, Brooks noted that "our region has been approved to begin a measured reopening for so-called Phase One businesses. We are a Phase One business, so this means several things for us. One, we have begun to welcome our fabulous booksellers back to the store. Two, we continue to offer curbside pickup in our 'book cooler' out front, and shipping options. We are also starting to look forward to Phase Two and what that will mean for us. If the move into Phase Two goes well for our region, we will be looking at reopening sometime in early June, albeit in a limited capacity.
"We are also cooking up some creative ways to stay connected with you this summer (for example by offering Zoom storytime for the little ones and Zoom read-aloud sessions for older kids), so stay tuned, and let us know if there are ways we can be supporting you right now. And until we see you in person again, please continue to support us through your online, email and phone orders!"
"After a LOT of preparation and a quiet soft opening," novel. bookstore, Memphis, Tenn., is "finally open for browsing. BUT. There are rules, of course," including masks required for both staff and customers, limiting visits to 45 minutes ("hold off on those all-day browsing sessions for now so we can serve more people while we are open"), lots of hand sanitizer throughout the store, frequent cleaning/sanitizing, and markers on the floor to help distance while waiting in line.
Noting that "things look a little different for now, but it is all worth it to be able to see you again," novel. wrote: "We are thrilled to be able to welcome you back into our space after what feels like an eternity--we appreciate everything you all have done to keep us going, and we will definitely need your continued support as we work through this reopening and beyond. See you soon!"
The Sly Fox bookstore, Virden, Ill., will open for browsing, consistent with the Governor Pritzker's guidelines. Under restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the store, which will mark its 22nd anniversary in July, has been selling by phone and online, as well as doing curbside pickup and home deliveries.
"I expect a trickle, not a deluge," said owner George Rishel. "I rarely have more than one customer in the store at any one time, unless they are family members who come together. I have masks, gloves, sanitizers, wipes, and a sneeze guard. At 76, I need to protect myself as well as customers."
Rishel anticipates "in-store traffic during the first part of the summer to be slow. And online traffic has already started to decline. Maybe things will pick up with the Stephenie Meyer book and the postponed Rowley Jefferson book in early August. This fall will call for more attention to merchandising. And in addition to being a bookseller, I expect I may have to also become a personal shopper, something indies do well."