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We closed our bookstore yesterday to the public, indefinitely. At first, it was a very difficult decision. Then, it suddenly became easy: We have heard of people getting sick around town, I have a six week old and a 21 month old and two older parents (sorry for calling you "older," Mom&Dad), and the decision became easy. As a community space where many people congregate, given so many more public places were closing, we did not feel comfortable potentially contributing to the spread of this virus.
Even though, right now, at this moment, this disease has not affected people we love, (and yes, I know the flu & car crashes & cancer have killed more people -- that's not the point), we have checked in with other bookstores, especially those in Italy. The amount of sickness there is frightening. I received a message from a bookstore owner in Italy pleading with me to take this seriously, now -- right now. I have read statistics that even just one day of earlier social distancing can make a significant difference in slowing the transmission, at least to slow the disease and give our health care folks a fighting chance. People will still get sick whether or not we are open or closed. But that scary, potentially overwhelming, initial spike will be lower.
So, what now? If you buy books, consider browsing an indie bookstore's website. Many more Indies are likely to close or make hard choices soon. Obviously, we have a website, too - LiteratiBookstore.com. But I'm not trying to solicit business here. I simply want to share my perspective: Small businesses will be hit very, very hard in the coming weeks and months. Please don't just flock to Amazon. Jeff Bezos is doing just fine, and will likely flee Earth soon for the Moon anyway.
More importantly, be kind and good to each other. Check in with your friends. Reach out to your friends who have little ones. Call your parents. Support local businesses online. Share TP with your neighbor. Take a long walk. Don't pay attention to only one news outlet. Pay attention to your community. Just pay attention. Write in a journal. Read a book. Take a breath.
We'll get through this, like we have done many times before.
Lastly, as most small business owners likely did last night, I checked my work email at 2am. Got a message from our inventory manager: We had 200+ web orders in a day, and she, a longtime Borders employee who experienced their downfall and final days here in Ann Arbor, said we should be proud. I am, both of who we are, and who we are.