St. Louis' oldest independent bookstore announced Wednesday it would return to online sales only.
After a successful and busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend, staff members discussed ongoing fears of the rise in COVID-19 cases and decided to stop offering appointment times for shopping in the store, co-owner Kris Kleindienst said.
"The spike in cases really concerns us," she said. "We know that our customers are being as safe as possible, but this is a strange time and ... there are a lot of factors."
But the good news for the Central West End bookstore is that a large growth in sales last month meant it could pay off some debt — including two months of late rent, Kleindienst said Wednesday. In the past, she said, "we've always made rent, payroll, taxes."
Six weeks ago, the store put out a public appeal to customers to order more from the store and even offer donations.
Now, "we're keeping the wolves at bay" and making payroll, she said.
In an email to customers, she, co-owner Jarek Steele and the staff wrote:
"It has been about 6 weeks since we put out our appeal for support. Your response was quite simply, beyond our wildest dreams. We have been literally scrambling to keep up with your orders, well-wishes, and generous donations. Thank you!!!!!"
The staff is currently busy trying to mail orders, which take time to process. The store will continue to provide curbside pickups, she said.
Kleindienst had not had time to calculate the increase of sales last month but said it had been the store's best November ever.
The store's email said:
"The good news is that your support is making a real difference in our bottom line and we are in a much better position than we were a month ago. With continued and sustained support at anywhere near what has happened so far, Left Bank Books will be healthy enough to look forward to opening our doors when it is once again safe enough to do so."