One month ago, Roger locked the front door and we began an operation unlike any other we have ever attempted in our lifetimes. With many of our staff at risk for COVID-19, we have been working with a tirelessly dedicated skeleton crew to continue to provide a literary lifeline to Kansas City and beyond. Taunda, Peggy and Cate have helped us process the orders flowing into our store through our web site and phone. Our son Geoffrey is working remotely to help move your orders through our supply chain. Our granddaughter Madeline delivered us treats to keep the crew happy. Our granddaughters Faith and Ashle helped with Social Media. Our grandson Aidan volunteered to start limited deliveries for us, to speed up our efforts. Our daughter Alison and our granddaughter Halle get a special acknowledgment for working on the front lines across the street at KU Cancer Center. It is a family effort, we believe in our community.
The number of messages of support from you are inspiring and deeply heartfelt. We have been so busy answering the phones and packaging books that we have barely had time to respond to even a fraction of your messages, but please know that we hear you. Many, many of you have asked if there is some other way to help.
This week’s message to you is one of hope and determination.
We have been working seven days a week to keep the flow of books moving. These have been very long days, but we recognize that our community needs to keep reading, keep talking, stay together in mind, body, and spirit. We will get through this, even though difficult months lie ahead.
Rainy Day Books is known all over the world for our “gold standard” author events. Thousands of author guests have brought their stories to Kansas City. In just the last ten years, over 500,000 of you have attended one of our author events. We are in discussions each week about future events for fall (so many big names now!), but we know that social distancing and time constraints will not permit us to restart our live event schedule until early September. This represents a six month shortfall in revenue for our business. In addition, our school and corporate business is a fraction of what it once was.
There are also long term trends that the present crisis may impact our operation more than we anticipate. We are unsure about the ability of our community to continue to buy books in the long run. While we are ready to resume full operations as soon as we have permission to do so, the safety and well-being of our staff and customers mandates that we proceed with an abundance of caution. It may take several months before our store returns as the hub of social connection that it has always been.
While we are actively seeking assistance that may be available to small business, our advisors have told us not to completely rely on these programs coming through in time or at the level we would need to sustain our operations.
Our landlord is in Bethesda, Maryland. The Fairway Shops are one of many properties that they own across the country, and we anticipate that they are unable to offer us assistance at this time.
Today we launch a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. This campaign is to assist the store with funding short-term gaps in operational expenses and long-term efforts to continue our business, especially our author events series. Our goal is to raise $280,000. Our campaign is based on the worst case scenario provided by our advisors. All funds raised will be used to support our staff, reduce outstanding liabilities, and provide additional help for operational costs. Any support you give is an expression of hope.
We miss you all. We miss our family and friends. We miss our community.
To our local friends, author friends, media friends, all friends of Rainy Day Books: we are totally committed to our legacy of literacy. We are not as active on social media as many of our bookselling peers because we are active 24/7 with our face-to-face work. Anything you can do to help us spread the word about our operation right now is welcome. We now need you to help us tell our story. Please tell the world that we are working seven days a week to keep the books coming. Please tell the world that every order placed online or by phone matters. Please tell the world that Rainy Day Books wants to and is ready to reopen the door, as soon as it is safe to do so.
Today we ask you: If you have ever had a memorable moment at one of our author events, if one of our staff ever recommended a book that changed your life, or if the story of our bookstore ever inspired you to do something special; please help us continue. Even if you are not able to make a financial contribution, you can help us spread this message.
We are grateful for each day, and we hope to continue for many more days.
We believe in our Legacy of Literacy. We will continue to keep working. On November 4, 2020 we will celebrate 45 years of storytelling, and we hope you will all join us in celebration. Millions of books sold, many more lives transformed.
With love and gratitude,
Vivien & Roger
- Kimberly Zellmer
- Robert Weirich
- Susan Pepperdine
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