GRIFFIN BAY BOOKSTORE UPDATE
APRIL 22, 2020
To our loyal customers:
Your outpouring of support, along with your heartfelt messages of encouragement, has given us the steam to keep on as booksellers during this fraught time of the pandemic and consequent shutdown of community and economic life. Our doors may be closed, but we are still open for business, albeit only through ordering and curbside pick-up or deliveries. We are tremendously thankful for your orders, for your words of support; our appreciation knows no bounds. We are grateful to have such good people continuing to order books and making purchases on our website (no easy task), through e-mail, and by phone. We extend an enormous thanks to all of you who have come forth to keep us in business. We’ve also been warmed to hear kind and thoughtful messages on our recorder, and best of all, to have a chat with you. Keep on calling! Without you, we simply cannot go on.
Make It Easier on Yourself: Order by Phone
In order to streamline ordering and to make it easier for you to continue shopping for books, puzzles, journals, stationery, cards, and for all the odds and ends in the bookstore, we encourage you to make direct contact with us by phone or email. Our website is part of a system devised by American Booksellers Association and we admit it is not user-friendly. We’ve come to the conclusion that it may be easier for some of you to call us and talk directly to a real person when placing an order. We can then process your payment at the same time, as well as let you know if the books you want are available and when to expect them.
New Hours for the Bookstore
Griffin Bay Bookstore staff will be available Monday through Friday, 11:00 am—2:00 pm. Call the bookstore, 360-378-5511 to reach staff and place an order.
Simply call the bookstore to reach a real person, a staff member who will be there to take your order and answer your questions. You can count on someone being there on the above days, during our new hours. If the line is busy, keep trying. E-mail is always a good choice, too: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider Griffin Bay Staff as Your Personal Shopper
Reach out for a cheerful voice! You can have fun chatting with Natalie or Ryanne by phone. With phone in hand, they will browse the store with/for you. They can help you find just the right cards, gifts, offer recommendations and/or substitutions. And then make arrangements for your payment and pick-up or delivery time. This is an opportunity for you to keep informed about what’s new in fiction and non-fiction as well as to ask questions, to jabber a bit. Call 360-378-5511 Monday through Friday, 11:00 am—2:00 pm. You can also leave a message anytime on our recorder.
E-Mail is Efficient Too
If you prefer e-mail, send one with your ordering requests as well as your phone number, but please do not include your credit card information! Don’t forget to give us your phone number so we can call you back. Our email is: email@example.com Laura or Natalie will respond to your requests quickly.
Website Ordering is Quick
Some of you have placed orders that have been executed smoothly and were sent out without any problems. However, this hasn’t always been the case. If you encounter any problems placing an order, we urge you to let us know asap. Please call or e-mail so we can help you and make it easier for you to get what you want. Call, 360-378-5511, and leave a message if you’re calling when no staff member is in the bookstore. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you’re experiencing difficulties with ordering on our website. We are checking both the phone recorder and emails several times a day so it shouldn’t take too long for us to get back to you.
If you have been successful in ordering on our website, just keep at it!
As may know, the situation is dire for independent, brick & mortar bookstores all across the nation. Bookstores are shuttered, struggling to survive. Opening up will most likely be slow and tenuous, as we navigate the safety of the process. It should come as no surprise that sales have plummeted, while the costs of business, of running a bookstore, have remained the same. Griffin Bay Bookstore’s situation is no less precarious. If we do not have island or community support over the next few months, we will not be able to stay in business.
You are the key to our survival right now. Federal, state, and local programs to help small businesses are overwhelmed with requests and applications for funding grants or loans. Griffin Bay Bookstore has submitted applications for small business relief through various agencies, however there is no guarantee that we’ll receive any funding to help us offset the loss of sales revenue, nor how long it could be in coming. We’re encountering bumps in the road with our negotiations over monthly rent. At the moment, all staff members have been furloughed; only two remain employed on a very part time basis. With the help of the American Booksellers Association, booksellers are banding together to work out payment schedules and/or debt relief with publishers and distributors. These negotiations will take time, effort and cooperation, hence, there is another layer of uncertainty for us to contend with.
Consider What a Bookstore, What Your Local Means to You
Without Griffin Bay Bookstore, without independent bookstores scattered across the country, we book lovers will be left to the mercy of “the bullying behemoth, Amazon,” as some booksellers recently put it in an open letter to publishers and a major distributor, Ingram. We won’t mince words, the time for that is long gone: Amazon is a threat to the economic well-being, the very survival of independent bookstores everywhere, and that includes Griffin Bay Bookstore. Many of you already know this, many of you have a keen understanding of the value of small, locally-owned businesses, but for others who are or have been tempted to order books with Amazon to save a dollar or two on a book purchase, or because you might get it a little faster, it’s time to think again, to consider that Jeff Bezos has declared books as “non-essential” and has slowed down their shipping of books. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that their intent is to finally drive bookstores out of business in order to take control of publishing and bookselling, to control or determine who writes, who gets published, what gets reviewed and sold. Is this what you want to see happen? Is this what is good for society, for the written word, for freedom of expression, for artistic expression? For our cultural good? It’s worth asking, too, what kind of literary culture—including, among others, authors, editors, publishers both large and small--do you want to see fostered?
You might also want to reconsider not just what kind of business you’re supporting, but what kind of town you want to see, what kind of downtown you want to shop in and spend time in.
If you like to shop downtown, like to walk into stores to browse and chat with the folks who are there, then buy local now during this challenging time. If you don’t want to see your community’s economic life impoverished by empty storefronts, then buy local right now when you can. Our cultural, social, and economic lives are not well-served by one-stop shopping at Amazon.
Griffin Bay Bookstore is not the only business in Friday Harbor to suffer significant economic hardship. Compounding this situation for book lovers and readers, is the Library’s closure. The loss of these third places, these public squares ought to give us pause to reconsider their value in a community that seeks to be livable, lively, vibrant, interesting as well as economically viable or sustainable.
We know a number of you are thinking ahead, thinking about what kind of downtown you want to see flourishing again. We’ve been asked by customers who want to make sure we survive: How can we help you out? You’ve asked what you might do besides ordering books. Yes, there are things for you to do. You should first encourage your family, friends, neighbors to order books through us as often as they can. And if you’re inclined to offer financial contributions to our operation, here are a few things you can do
- Pay one month’s OPALCO bill on your own or do half with a friend.
- Pay one month’s bill for the bookstore’s phone, or internet service.
- Cover the fees for one month’s utilities bill from the Town of Friday Harbor.
- Contribute to rent.
- Contribute funding to cover a portion of the remaining staff members’ salaries.
You’ll find a “donate” box on our website. Follow the prompts and make a contribution. Or, if you prefer, call us or send an e-mail to Laura Norris, email@example.com and let her know what kind of donation you would like to make. In other words, tell us how you’d like your contribution earmarked. Bear in mind, this is for the short term—just long enough for us to devise a business strategy for the longer term, the next 18 months to two years.
Our Goal for Now
Our immediate goal is to stay open for ordering, curbside pick-up, and deliveries by keeping our practices as simple and functioning until we know more about Covid-19’s spread, testing, Governor Jay Inslee’s plans, and a host of other federal, state, and local directives and/or recommendations. There’s no getting around it though: We need you--our island community—in order to stay open now—and when the time comes, to again open our doors to greet and welcome in our wonderful customers.
Until then, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your continuing support—your patronage, your efforts, your contributions—to make sure Griffin Bay Bookstore will survive to be a part of Friday Harbor’s economic and cultural life. Please know that we miss seeing you. We send our best wishes to you and hope you are healthy and safe, and finding beauty and happiness where you can in your daily lives.
Your friends at Griffin Bay Bookstore