Dear Friends of Bookshop West Portal,
Thank you so much for all your expressions of encouragement and support over the last few weeks. Many of you have called or written to ask how the staff are doing. Happily, everyone is healthy and well.
However, since the shelter-in-place order has been extended to May 3rd, we have had to make the difficult decision to furlough most of the staff for the month of April. We are so grateful for their hard work and dedication to keep business running the best we can since the closure. While our staff will never be without aid, we knew that to be able to survive in these unprecedented times we would have to cut down on operations. Our hope is that everyone will be able to get back to work in early May, when the store is allowed to open again.
The good news is that sales through our website, which have always been a minor part of our business, have broken all records and continue to go up every day. Thank you so much! Keep the orders coming -- every little bit helps as this is our main source of income right now. Since we are down to a skeleton staff for website orders, we ask for your patience with our response time. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
In addition, we have received several emails asking what customers can do to help. Here are some ideas:
1. Continue to buy books or puzzles via our website.
Our wholesaler will ship direct, anywhere in the US, so please spread the word! We miss helping you find books in person; in this new normal, if you need recommendations or book ideas please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. If you live in the neighborhood, and if we have the book or puzzle you're looking for in stock at the store, we may be able to provide "touchless delivery" and leave your order at your doorstep. Please email us at email@example.com.
3. Buy gift certificates via our website and come visit us when we reopen. We can’t wait to see you in the store again!
4. People have asked if they can donate to the store. In lieu of taking these generous offers without paying them forward, we encourage you to donate to our Children’s Book Fund instead. The money donated to the Children’s Book Fund will be used to purchase books from our store and given to local school libraries and non-profits who help children in need.
5. If you’re a lover of books, literature, and independent bookstores across the country, you can donate to "Save Indie Bookstores". This initiative was launched by the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to distribute grants to bookstores impacted by the virus. Bookshop West Portal will be applying for a grant. This is an important initiative that can make a real difference for independent bookstores.
It has been a very stressful time for all the small businesses in West Portal. Our neighborhood is more than a community. We are a family and have always supported each other. We kindly ask that we all work together to help each other in these trying times. We encourage you to order food for pick-up or delivery from our local restaurants. If it is necessary to leave your home for essential business, Postal Chase and Papenhausen are still open. Consider getting groceries at Eezy Freezy or the other small markets. We are only as strong as our neighbors - you contribute to the success of all the small businesses in West Portal, and we are eternally grateful.
As always thank you for your unwavering loyalty, and we look forward to seeing you in the very near future. Stay safe and healthy.
With all best wishes,
Neal Sofman, Anna Bullard, and the Staff at Bookshop West Portal