One of the biggest challenges facing comic book store owners as more cities are implementing measures to combat the covid-19 outbreak is the fact that people simply do not want to (and in some cases can not) patronize their brick and mortar businesses.
But because most cities aren’t making the choice to suspend rents, shop owners are being put into the difficult position of having to keep their doors open, even though people aren’t necessarily trying to buy things right now. With this all in mind, Diamond Comic Distributors is advising that stores follow in its lead of both prioritizing employee safety while also taking steps to try and encourage the public to buy comics in safe ways. Internally, Diamond is mandating that all non-essential staff work from home save for the skeleton crew who are still reporting to its office in Hunt Valley, MD.
While comics are still being delivered to stores, the organization explained in a public statement that it wants store owners to understand how important it’s going to be for them to find ways to encourage the public to buy their goods.
“Some retailers have turned to innovative changes, such as curbside service or even local delivery to better serve their customers. This may not be an option for everyone, but is likely to make customers more comfortable swinging by to pick up their books if they don’t have to come inside,” the organization said. “It should also satisfy local rules about stores being ‘open to the public’ and/or gatherings of 50 or more people. As always, consult with the local authorities if you have any questions.”
For stores that are being drastically impacted by the outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation is offering financial assistance for those who need it, but BINC executive director Pamela French made clear in a statement that retailers shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help even if their struggles aren’t strictly covid-19-related.
“We do not want those with needs unrelated to the virus to refrain from requesting help. Whatever the cause of someone’s hardship may be, it is still a financial emergency for that household. BINC is ready,” she said. “BINC is supported by a community of book people and reinforces the power of many coming together. ”
Until the country gets a better handle on the outbreak, it’s going to continue to be difficult for retailers to operate normally, especially in instances where cities mandate that stores close earlier than normal.
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