Binc’s Bookseller Stories: “A Bookstore Blooms in Uncertain Times”

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The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) sent out the tenth volume of its Bookseller Stories newsletter on September 23. The nonprofit organization launched this monthly series so donors could see the life-saving and life-changing impact they have on the lives of booksellers every day. In each story, booksellers give their account of how Binc helped them recover from a financial emergency. Binc provides financial assistance to booksellers experiencing an emergency or hardship caused by illness, natural disasters, and more. Read the tenth volume of Bookseller Stories here:

Binc logo“A Bookstore Blooms in Uncertain Times” (Bookseller Stories, vol. 10 / / September ’20) 

Our last bookseller story came out in February. Since then, our industry and the world have been rocked by the pandemic. 

Your support during this time has been a beacon of hope for booksellers across the country. They’ve faced a barrage of new challenges, from the illness itself to its impact on the business of bookselling. 

Every store and every bookseller has a story of their own. This month we’re sharing the story of Michigan’s 2 Dandelions Bookshop, owned by Jeri Kay and Jeanne Blazo, a small but mighty store navigating this unprecedented time.

“We closed before any business in downtown Brighton,” Jeri Kay recounts. “There was so much uncertainty…and not being able to touch things. How do you run a bookstore without being able to touch the books? That’s when we decided we were going to close.” She waits a beat before adding quietly, “It was a big decision, but it was the right decision.”

Originally thinking the shutdown would just be “a three-week spring break,” the owners started reinventing the store to online sales, and, with the help of social media, the website orders started coming in. The bookshop sold some books every day either through the website or through calls to the store. Kay even made deliveries to local customers herself.

On April 1, the owners applied for a Binc grant to replenish their nearly depleted inventory.

“Our shelves were almost bare, so we used the grant to order more books,” Jeanne Blazo relays. First on the list? Michigan authors (of course) and nature-themed books, which had seen an uptick in demand during the shutdown.

“Since the pandemic, people are bird-watching,” Blazo explains. “Even children. People are home and noticing nature, which is one of the benefits of slowing down.”

As for the future, the two owners see anything but a slowdown for their beloved bookshop. Kay and Blazo feel strongly that opening the bookstore was the exact right thing to do: right place, right time. If anything, the pandemic has only made them more rooted in their commitment to be around “for a long time.”

“When the pandemic layoffs began, I was terrified of what that meant for my family financially. After the first month without a paycheck in sight, I began to panic. Then I remembered Binc. I filled out the form, and within a week, I was notified that we would be receiving enough to cover our mortgage. I’m so grateful for the help we received during such uncertain times. I’m not sure what would have happened if we hadn’t gotten it when we did.” —A Bookseller You Helped

Visit the Binc website to make a donation, and read the other Bookseller Stories newsletters here. Additional bookseller testimonials can be found on the Great Nonprofits review website.