Trail’s End Bookstore reaches out to readers
Trail’s End Bookstore manager Abilene Hagee and her staff are finding new ways to serve book lovers during the coronavirus shutdown.
“We were fortunate that the shutdown coincided with the slower shoulder season,” Hagee said. The timing allowed the staff to expand the store’s web platform and learn best practices to protect the business, workers, and the community.
As a brick-and-mortar store on Winthrop’s boardwalk, Trail’s End strives to fill an independent bookstore niche by providing personal recommendations by staff, offering books not found online, and hosting live events with authors.
With the advent of coronavirus, Hagee pivoted quickly to learn how to navigate an online presence to connect with customers who were staying safe at home.
Trail’s End Bookstore is a member of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA). Both organizations provided valuable assistance in identifying immediate steps for the bookstore to take at the beginning of the shutdown.
Hagee worked with ABA and a community member to build out the bookstore’s website to include online shopping and staff recommendations. PNBA provided legal help in navigating financial assistance programs. Both organizations offered resources for the store to reopen safely. The PNBA will assist with hosting and planning of live online events with publishers and authors later this summer.
Hagee spent the first seven weeks alone at the bookstore, offering curbside pickup to customers, and working to update social media with weekly offers. “It was all a real learning curve,” she said, “I am glad to have the staff back to help.”
The Trail’s End Bookstore Facebook page allowed Hagee to interact with the community during the shutdown. Prior to March, most Facebook posts had less than a dozen interactions. Since the shutdown, posts have averaged 30-50 interactions on book recommendations, puzzle options, and updates to curbside pickup and ordering options.
A good portion of Trail’s End Bookstore’s profits come from the valley’s second homeowners, and the bookstore feels the loss. Despite the financial hit, “The book community is amazing,” Hagee said. A customer volunteered their expertise to help expand the website and get inventory online. Another customer apologized for spending a small amount, but to Hagee, “We are all tightening our belts and being fiscally responsible. The idea that someone thought to buy a book from us is heartening. We are so grateful that the entire community is supportive.”
Hagee emphasized the efforts that she and the staff have made, learning to do things differently to interact with the community. “We are good citizens. We will follow CDC guidelines and the directions of health experts to serve the community in the proper way,” she said.
Trail’s End Bookstore offers online ordering through its website, http://www.trailsendbookstore.com, with the option to ship. Monthly audiobook memberships are available on the website through a partnership with Libro.fm, providing members with access to over 70,000 audiobooks. The bookstore is open for curbside pickup from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. Call ahead, or order online prior to pick-up.