Amazon.com is known for a lot of things these days, but books are no longer top of mind when you think of the ecommerce giant.
For the nation’s independent booksellers, that presents an opportunity as welcome as it is unexpected.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the business models of countless industries and caused pain for small-business owners nationwide. But entrepreneurs are fighting back and adapting.
One of those is Gramercy Books in Bexley, where owner Linda Kass has ramped up online sales and fulfillment while emphasizing the store’s traditional strengths in personalized customer service.
“Being a small, single independent bookstore, we've been able to be nimble and I think we have we quickly readjusted in reinventing our business into a phone and online transactional business, rather than an in-store customer face-to-face business,” she said.
Kass said she feels like Gramercy has become “an alternative to Amazon” by being able to provide the convenience of online shopping and delivery while providing a concierge presence for those who want to talk to a human about their interests.
“I think that that some of these things are almost habitual,” she said. “And as people are coming to us in that way, instead of just going on to Amazon, I think that has been a real positive for all booksellers across the country. Amazon had de-prioritized books in the midst of all this and it gave booksellers across the country the option opportunity to come into this space. And we've done so.”
“Our e-commerce, which was a very, very little of portion of our revenue for the almost three and a half years we've been in operation, now is an enormous part of our revenue."
In the latest episode of our Crisis Management podcast, Kass also talks about how Gramercy is adjusting its events business that has featured author readings and book clubs, and what the store is doing to accept walk-in customers again.