by Mary Ruthless
Our entire country is on red alert right now as we work together to contain and slow down the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Foggy Pine Books is no exception to this work and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions in the past week about how we can best help our community while still keeping our business open. The main points here are:
Appalachian State University and the Town of Boone have taken precautionary steps to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 and Foggy Pine Books will be joining in that effort. While there have been no suspected cases of the new coronavirus in Watuaga or Ashe counties, social distancing is still an important step in reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Though none of our events are over 100 people, they would put the attendees in very close contact. Effective immediately, we are canceling all our events EXCEPT for book clubs which will be moved online. Mary will host the Silent Book Club, Fantasy & Sci-Fi Book Club, and Foggy Pine Book Club meetings via Zoom/Facebook Live/Google Duo (truly not sure yet, still working those things out) so that our longest running events will still be accessible to our customers. All author events for March, the Story Slam, and our new So Chill events will be pulled from the calendar effective immediately. These have been canceled on all platforms with information on the book clubs in each event description. Furthermore, we are reducing our hours on Friday and Saturday, starting today. We will now close at 7pm every day, except Sunday when we close at 6pm. Please let us know if you have any questions about these decisions or upcoming online events.
With precautionary measures taken care of, we must now confront our current standing as a small, independent business. I don’t like sharing the store’s financial status publicly but I think it’s important to be transparent during this very stressful time. As many of you know, indie bookstores operate on a very thin margin. We are flexible and adaptable but can only do so much. This winter and it’s lack of, well, winter did a number on us. For the first time since we opened our doors, we did not meet sales projections. This has put us behind and behind and behind in almost every way. We are doing everything that we can but, with the addition of the current health situation, we are in dire straits. Having to cancel events is going to hurt us. Reducing hours is going to hurt us. Running on a limited staff is going to hurt us and our staff. So, if you value having a bookstore in your community, I am asking for your help. If it’s within your power to do, please keep shopping with us. I know that many people simply cannot or do not feel comfortable going out into public while the transmission of COVID-19 is a widespread concern. To that end, we are offering free shipping on ALL orders. You may order from home by placing your order online or by calling the store and we will ship your books to you for FREE via media mail. We don’t want folks to risk their health but we need the financial support of sales in a serious way.
If you do not have the resources to support us in this way, you can still help! Share this article with your friends and family. Encourage people who do have the resources to shop not just with us but with as many local businesses as possible. We aren’t the only ones struggling to manage the current economic changes. Like our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), like & comment on our posts, share them on your social media, read/share/comment on our blog posts. The more exposure we get on these platforms, the better chance we have of surviving the shifting tides of the current economy. These things may seem small to you but bigger social media numbers generally translate to higher sales--sales that we, and many other small, local businesses, need very much right now.
Finally, I want to thank our customers for their patience and support during this time. We’ve already had quite a few of you reaching out to check on us, make purchases, and are telling your friends to shop here. I cannot tell you how much that means to us. Having such a wonderful, loyal customer base who truly believes in the value of the work that we do makes us feel much more confident in our ability to weather the current economic & social climate. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Keep reading, wash your hands, and support local businesses!
What an incredible first week it's been.
When I decided to open this bookstore, I was worried that the town of Boone would be mildly suspicious of us as a new business. After all, many people take their bookstores very personally. Once you begin to shop at a particular shop, you become connected--to the space, the owner, the vibe. It becomes YOUR bookstore. So, I expected some trepidation on the part of Boone's, typically introverted, bibliophiles. However, I have been quite wrong AND surprised.
Boone has welcomed me with open arms and I am so grateful for the support of the community. I have no advertisements out right now, save social media, yet everyone who has come in this week has heard about the store from somewhere. Granted, the article in The Mountain Times was a wonderful help in this field, but most people report that they've heard of the store from someone else. So, for everyone who is talking my store up to your friends, colleagues, customers, family members, and random strangers in the grocery line: Thank you so much. Your actions are making a positive impact. Keep it up and remember that local businesses depend on the support of their locals. Without you, we would soon be gone.
The Grand Opening party is coming next week, next Friday to be exact. We will be staying open late that day, until 9pm, to accommodate all the Art Crawl people out and about. We plan on being a part of Art Crawl every month, with extended hours and featuring some sort of artist--musical or otherwise.
I also want to mention that I am seeking local artists to put work up on my walls. I have lots of space and work on a 70/30 commission scale. You hang up your work with a price tag and title plate; I call you when it sells, keeping 30% for myself. Mostly I just want to provide a space for local artists of all kinds to show off and, hopefully, sell their work. If you know any talented, local painters, photographers, or sculptors, please send them my way.
Which leads me to remind everyone that I am still seeking local authors for my Local Author's Spotlight. If you know a writer that you think is amazing and they live in North Carolina, send me their contact information and I can take care of the rest!
Thank you again everyone. Keep being amazing! I look forward to meeting all of the local book worms so, if you haven't had a chance to come out yet, please come introduce yourself!
Enjoy the weekend...I know what I'm doing...
PS: I have also created an employment section on this site. If you, or someone you know, is interested in a job at Foggy Pine Books, please direct them to that page. It's under the ABOUT section and includes an application. While I am not currently hiring, I will keep all applications on file for 6 months and review them all before hiring. Much love!
PPS: You should check us out on social media, if you haven't already. We are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest! I try to share interesting book related links and memes--basically we strive to be a haven for bibliophiles on the interwebs.
Ok, I'm really done now! Have a great weekend!
Max Ruthless: Owner