UPDATE MEMORIAL DAY, MONDAY, MAY 25:
We’ve been silent in this space over the past weeks, but not idle. We’ve been busy filling the heartening stream of orders from so many of you. The volume of orders has kept the reduced staff working very hard; Jon in the store everyday on the phone and processing all the orders, Alicia at home handling all the direct to home orders, Lucy and Martha in for a few hours most days to open mail and take care of administrative tasks, with Tim and volunteer Jean Dickson making sure all the packages make it out the door and into the delivery stream. Our apologies for the times when we fall behind; sometimes the order stream becomes a bit of a flood. The store is strewn with packing materials and piles of books as we have transformed from a retail outlet to a faux warehouse—and it is quiet, way more quiet than a bookstore should ever be. We miss the conversations, and we think the books do too. They appreciate company and visitors and are probably sick to death of spending so many days mostly alone with Jon, so focused on acknowledging and responding to your orders that he barely nods hello When we can finally open our doors again, the cheers from the books could well deafen the whole neighborhood.
Hopeful news this past week—as of Monday, May 19, we can officially offer contact free curbside pickup and local delivery in addition to mailing books near and far. Re-opening the store is on the horizon, but we have a lot of questions about what that means and what it will look like, for you and for us, as we strive to maintain a safe environment to work, browse, and shop in. Even in the empty shop we wear masks and gloves, keep our distance and wash and disinfect our hands and computers, door knobs and machinery...we are all wigged out by this whole thing and are hyper-cautious. We are monitoring what our colleagues around the country are doing as they open, and learning what the NY guidelines will be as the possibility of reopening nears. We will only open when we feel confident all of us are as safe as possible.
We are so incredibly grateful for all who have been ordering books, calling, and generally offering support and goodwill. We do not take this support for granted. While we continue to hope that we and all bookstores will survive, that only happens if people who can continue to buy books for themselves and, we hope, for the less fortunate as well. Whatever bookstores morph into will be reliant on the health of the local and national economy. While continued hard work and dedication will certainly keep us afloat for the time being, we know that these will not guarantee survival. Your goodwill and dedication are as critical as the work of staff. You have shown us that you more than have our back, you are nurturing our spirit. We have been utterly gobsmacked by your support over the past nine weeks. We will keep trying our hardest to come out the other side as something resembling an independent bookstore, a necessary place and space where people and books and stories and ideas live and breathe, collide and mesh, sing and dance, inspire and inform.
Thanks to all who have donated to the Say Yes / Talking Leaves campaign to provide gift certificates for this year’s graduating public school seniors. We’re only $1600 short of the $10,000 goal. You can help your local indie bookstore and help make graduation more meaningful this year for the class of 2020. Details and the donation page are here: https://sayyesbuffalo.wedid.it/campaigns/7544
With much affection and gratitude, and wishes that you all stay well and safe, and keep reading, until we can meet again in this special place we call an independent bookstore.
UPDATE MONDAY MARCH 23: The Talking Leaves storefront is now officially closed to the public. We will continue to accept, process and ship orders from our website, and by email (email@example.com) or telephone (716.884.9524). We will respond to all orders and inquiries as quickly as possible given the new circumstances, so please be patient. Our staff is greatly reduced until we are allowed to open again. We are working very hard to process all your orders and get your books out to you. We’ll keep doing that, but now with reduced staff.
During this crisis we are offering domestic media mail delivery at the reduced rate of $3.00 for one book, regardless of weight, and $1.00 for each additional book; domestic priority mail will be $6.00 for the first book, $1.50 for each additional book.
Please remember, too, that from our website you can download audiobooks through our partnership with Libro.fm and obtain e-books through our partnership with KOBO. All purchases through our store and website keep more of your dollars cycling through our local economy.
Under the executive order issued by Governor Cuomo, businesses are allowed to request an exempt designation as an essential business. We have applied for this exemption. We realize that books are not essential on the level of food, health and medical care, etc., but in this time of extreme crisis, disruption and anxiety reading provides a necessary oasis, a spring filled with knowledge, learning, wonder, solace and escape. Judging from the calls we’ve received over the past few days, many of you agree with us. With libraries and schools closed and many people still lacking access to digital devices or the technological savvy to use them, physical books and audio are a vital means of coping. Many of you have serious concerns about keeping your children occupied and their educational and recreational resources (puzzles and games, which we also stock) refreshed during a long disruption. We can help with that much more effectively if we can staff the store where the books are located with a minimal staff; we can do it even better if we can provide you with the same curbside service as restaurants. We understand and agree that an open storefront is not wise as we try to stop the spread of COVID-9, but we believe we will be able to contribute to the public’s mental health if we are as accessible as our food and restaurant colleagues. We don’t have any idea of how long it will take for the state to evaluate our request, or whether they will agree. When we have an answer, we will let you know. We’ll keep you updated about all changes as best we can via social media and the occasional email.
Your support and encouraging words over the past couple of weeks have been overwhelming, and only increase our resolve to fight through this and emerge stronger when we all return to whatever the new normal is. Being in a quiet, empty, partially darkened store is eerie, unsettling, and unnatural. When this is over, we’ll be the same lively place we were before this unexpected closure, filled with animated conversations in which we share our passions about books and the ideas we find there. Where you will be able to reconnect with some of your familiar interests and stumble across books that will open new worlds for you. Where you can come in for a paper, card or magazine, or spend a lunch break or an afternoon browsing for that special inspiration. There will be many stories to tell, and lessons to share, some light-hearted, some somber, more than a few tinged with the laughter of the retrospective look. We look forward to that day.
Our thoughts are with all of you, especially the sick, the folks working in health care, the public officials who’ve been working so hard to bring this pandemic under control, and those whose jobs have been lost in this trying time. Please take good care. Breathe deeply. Read—for fun, for pleasure, for escape, for learning. For each other, for all of us---read.
We hope we’ll all come through this having learned some valuable lessons, like the importance of clean hands, the nature of infectious diseases and how they spread, the importance of community to our mental and physical health, the necessity of intelligent and decisive public officials, the value of a rich and varied social life filled with all that our wonderful cultural and arts organizations regularly provide for us. And most important, let’s hope we all begin to live our lives with an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, how our interactions with each other and with the natural world have real, long-lasting consequences. Global warming, climate change, deforestation, polluted water and earth, the extinction of plant and animal life, racism, gross inequality, the violence and devastation of wars, disposable everything, ultra-convenience—all these things, separately and in unison, make viruses like COVID-19 more able, and more likely, to afflict us. Our actions brought on much of this; our actions now can help end this crisis and stave off future ones.
Thank you, as always, for your support, and your shared belief in the value and power of books and reading. We'll see you on the other side of this.