After two months of nationwide lockdowns due to Covid-19, many bookstores are slowly and cautiously reopening as states loosen restrictions.
Barnes & Noble reopened 20 stores last week, bringing the total now open to 51; another 500 B&N outlets are offering curbside pickup. Similarly, some indies are welcoming back customers, while others, even in states that allow in-store traffic, offer curbside pickup only.
Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books, in Wichita, Kans., said that without easily available testing or a vaccine, she can’t conduct business safely as she would like. But Kansas declared that “nonessential” retail stores can reopen, and her customers were eager to return when Bagby opened Watermark’s doors last week.
Safety for customers and staff is paramount to Bagby. Watermark’s layout has been reconfigured to make it easier for
customers to spread out, and strict safety protocols for staff and customers are in place, with signs explaining the protocols posted throughout the store.
At right is a selection of creative signs posted inside and outside indies in America’s heartland over the past week—including one from Watermark ; a polite but firm “Minnesota nice” sign regarding curbside pickup at Next Chapter in St. Paul; and a sign at Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo., notifying customers to wait outside until invited in to browse. And then there’s a sign from Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Steamboat Springs, Colo.: the literary reference asking customers to maintain physical distance from one another might be somewhat subtle, but, one would assume, it will be understood by anyone venturing into a bookstore these days.
Signs at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City instruct customers on the dos and don’ts of social distancing in the store.
St. Paul, Minn., indie Next Chapter Booksellers posted a sign that politely and firmly asks customers to maintain distance from one another.
Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Steamboat Springs, Colo. puts a classic literary spin on its signage asking customers to stay six feet apart.
Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo. has reopened; a sandwich board asks customers to wait outside until they are invited in to browse.
Watermark Books in Wichita, Kans., created vintage-esque signs about safety protocols that it posted throughout the store; this one is inside the store entrance.