Diary of a Bookseller #14
Today I went into the bookstore for the first time in a few weeks. At the start of the lockdown, I was going in once a week to process and ship orders that had come in before we closed, sending gift cards out, picking up picture books for virtual story times that I never wound up doing, and more. But before today, it’d been about 4 weeks since I’d put my key in the lock and turned off the alarm.
Today, I walked in and there were loose papers everywhere. We display the Indie Next list on a shelf with the books near the front door and I walked in to find them all over the floor. I think we have a gremlin. It gives me an idea for a new story – the bookstore gremlin who finally felt free to come out when the booksellers were away… but anyway. Today I had giftcards to mail out, a book to pick up that we couldn’t get from the warehouse for a customer, and two of my coworkers need new books for their self-isolation. Which meant, that for the first time in seven weeks, I was going to see two of my favorite people.
I cried. Last night when I knew they were both coming to the store, I teared up. It wouldn’t be the same as a normal work day, we’d be wearing masks so I wouldn’t be able to see their beautiful smiles, there wouldn’t be any customers to help, it would just be us doing some chores, but we’d be together. And I couldn’t wait.
While I miss my family members, I didn’t realize how much I missed my coworkers, my work family. We’re a tight knit bunch at the bookstore and we often describe ourselves as a family (and the roles we fill) whenever we interview a potential new employee. As the millennial manager, I’m the bossy big sister, we have two work moms, I’ve got two little sisters and a brother, a funny uncle, a politically correct but geeky aunt, and it goes on. We genuinely love and cherish each other, often hanging out outside of work as well.
As is expected, there is a decent amount of turnover at the store, particularly among the younger employees (usually fresh college grads trying to figure out what they really want to do), but we rarely have an employee with us for less than a year, and we are always happy to welcome most of them back for summer or seasonal help. Being without them all has been hard these past few weeks.
Today they asked me if we had a plan for when we can reopen. The owner of the store has been up on Martha’s Vineyard since the day we closed the doors so I’ve been the one going to and from the store and maintaining contact with everyone on a regular basis. And while I don’t know what the future holds, I’m certain we’ll be able to come back (our web orders are accounting for roughly 25% of business that we’d normally do right now) and I’ve got some great ideas for how we can make the browsing experience special and unique whenever we are able to reopen.