Coronavirus diary: End of week one

It’s been a strange week, to be sure. The good news is that with a week’s worth of experience at the new Browsers’, I feel pretty confident that we will be able to survive until the “stay home” policies are lifted. I’ve reduced enough expenses between payroll, accounting services, advertising, cost of goods, that I think our sales will sustain us. We may not come out of this stronger than before, but at least we’ll probably come out of it.

The community response has been greater than expected. It’s interesting to note that some people who are only occasional shoppers are really stepping up to bat to help us during this time: even if they aren’t frequent customers, they clearly enjoy having Browsers’ in their community. Although our in-store sales are nothing compared to normal, I think they will be enough to allow me to bring back at least one employee part-time, which would be a good thing on a lot of levels.

I’m trying to decide on how to best spend my time. It seems that I can spend a lot of time working with local customers and doing social media for local customers–but sometimes it’s more time spent than money earned. A guy kept me on the phone today for ten minutes: he wouldn’t buy the new ($9.99) copy of one of the books he specifically asked for, but does want me to transfer a $4 book from one store to the other. Is that worth it? In ten minutes I can catalog books for quite a bit more money than that. When the store is open we spend a lot of time talking to in-store customers or digging around to find the books they need–but now, when every minute counts and I’m struggling to replace a workforce of five with a solo effort, I’m wondering if I need to put a monetary value on customer service. If I had any kind of education in business, I might know the answer; alas, I was an English major…