- Like many other stores, Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, is offering shopping by appointment to adhere to social distancing. Unlike other retailers, though, Gibson’s customers purchase a $25 gift card to make their reservation, guaranteeing the bookstore a minimum sale.
- Story & Song Bookstore Bistro in Fernandina Beach, Florida, bought big on puzzles and blew out of them all after placing an ad in the local newspaper. Local print advertising is back as your customers return to local newspapers to take a break from screens and to feel connected to their communities.
- Stores that are promoting greeting cards are seeing significant sales as customers buy for both occasions they’re missing and to stay in touch with those they’re distanced from. Sell cards pre-stamped and promote them alongside a list of occasions to send them for (Father’s Day, thinking of you, thank you) and people to send them to (your postal worker, your child’s teacher, a friend). Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, set up an easy form for customers to use for this purpose.
- As IRL events are cancelled due to social distancing restrictions, look for ways your store can help fill the social void. When their community’s beloved annual shrimp festival was cancelled, Story & Song Bookstore Bistro stepped in to offer a special story time, a lecture on seafood “farming,” and carryout lunches featuring local fresh shrimp. Pasadena, California, has an annual chalk festival in June that draws crowds of people. If social distancing requires the event to be cancelled this year, Vroman’s Bookstore might consider promoting a community chalk event. The store could sell chalk and design books and encourage customers to participate in a DIY chalk festival in their neighborhoods that same weekend. Sales, publicity, and community connection.
- My friends’ donut store in Northern California launched Project Comfort, which asks customers to make donations to support the store delivering coffee and donuts to community hospital personnel. What can bookstores do? Maybe it’s a national indie bookstore campaign to thank teachers…hmmm….
- Now’s a great time to produce a short, funny video promoting services your customers may never have used before — curbside pickup, Hummingbird e-books, Libro.fm audiobooks, your store’s ecommerce wishlist feature, your website, and more.
- Speaking of wishlists and registries, promote your ecommerce wishlist! IndieCommerce stores have a tremendous opportunity right now to promote their site’s wishlist/registry feature and help customers with their shopping and their book daydreaming.
- Some stores are thinking about big events with big-name authors. But think differently, too. Does your community have a beloved local author who would be willing to do a private Zoom event for your store? Or a beloved local hero who would do a private talk or book group for your store? Or maybe one of your booksellers is friends with an author or a musician. Sometimes the right small event can sell more books than a big one. Customers who purchase the book and/or event ticket receive the link to the event. Partner with a local restaurant or wine store and now it’s a party.
- Now’s also a great time to try some new events. Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstores in D.C. and Silver Spring, Maryland, launched two new series recently: the Anti-Racist Book Club reading program and Date Night with Alyssa Cole. The first event is in response to customer requests and both events promise to serve the store’s current customers while also attracting new ones.
- There’s an opportunity right now to stand out with special promotions, content, and celebrations. Here’s a list of holidays, most of which you’ve probably never heard of, to design marketing and promotional campaigns that aren’t business as usual.
- And lastly, one more from Story & Song that owner Donna Paz Kaufman wrote about their newsletter: “(We) add our personal photos of each person on our crew and beautiful poems and calming, inspiring quotes that show there is a greater good opportunity in our lives, always, and especially right now.”
ABA is here for all of you. Please reach out if there is anything we can help with. We are an incredibly creative, resilient, supportive industry. We’ll get through this, together.