Like a roller coaster ride, it’s been sometimes wild, sometimes terrifying, but always glorious. In 2008, we moved the shop to a bigger, more accessible, and more expensive space only to have the economy crash the following month. It was tough. We sacrificed. But with the help of our creative staff and way too many cookies, we survived by becoming much more than “just” a bookstore. We sought to become a community space where our Little Shop kids and their grownups could come together to share books, ideas, opinions, hopes, and dreams. We wanted to create a place where everyone would want to bring their families again and again and again.
The results included the creation of On the Same Page (our community wide reading initiative), the blossoming of our book-based summer camp program, the expansion of our book fair business along with other forms of school outreach, and the revival of the Decatur Christmas tree. These are only a few examples of how we rallied to bring children and their adults together around books following the recession. We also expanded our community and school outreach to work with non-profits and other entities to ensure that ALL children had regular access to books and the people creating them.
Now, there is a new crisis. We have had to pivot quickly and rethink our model, closing the shop to customers and shifting to online and phone ordering followed by shipping/curbside pickup/home delivery. The outpouring of love and support from our community has been both beautiful and moving. We are so, so very grateful. The phone is ringing off the hook and online sales have increased tenfold. The pace is frantic and exhausting, but we’re busy and our entire staff remains employed, receiving their regular paychecks and health care benefits.
Yet, it is still not enough to sustain us indefinitely.
We have already experienced an unrecoverable loss in revenue due to cancelled spring book fairs, author events and school visits, and birthday parties. Our entire summer camp program is in jeopardy.
We are writing to humbly ask you to donate, even the smallest amount, to our Go Fund Me campaign. While we are pursuing both federal and private assistance through loan and grant programs that will help us in the very short term, we still need help to continue to pay our incredibly dedicated and committed staff as well as to cover rent, utilities, and other fixed costs and liabilities. Through our Go Fund Me campaign, we hope to address our long-term viability so that we can continue to grow and evolve along with the readers we love.
Several of you have already donated to us through our online ordering site, and we thank each of you so much.
We also know that, like us, many of you are feeling financially anxious and unsure. If you cannot donate at this time, we ask you to please consider sharing our campaign through social media or sharing our online ordering and gift card links with family members and friends who share your passion for books, kids, and local business. We also hope that, when you are able, you turn to us for your book needs: gifts, required reading, a way to escape. We are here for you.
You’ve heard the following from us a lot lately: We are so grateful for you, our community, and your belief in our mission. Everyone on our team considers it an honor to serve your children, to be a part of their lives. We will never be able to thank you enough.
The idea of owning a bookstore is a romantic one. Diane recently remembered that when first opening the shop, a friend said, “You are so lucky! You’ll get to read all day!” The truth is that, even in good times, indie booksellers are frantically trying to keep it all together. We certainly don’t read as much as we should or want to. With razor thin margins, high overhead, and competition from Amazon and other big box retailers, it’s a wonder that we all survive. But this is the wild ride we have chosen, and we don't want it to end.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, for supporting us all these years, and for being a part of our Little Shop family.
We hope you all are safe, healthy, and well.
Diane and Dave
(The above photo are some members of the Little Shop family standing on our penny floor.)
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