Shelf Preservation: The Sequel

Final count: $141,627 out of $200,000Update: The Results

Our Shelf Preservation deadline has come and gone and there's no easy way to say this: We didn't make it.  

We knew as of last week that $200,000 was going to be a stretch, but we were still hopeful that we could reach our goal and be back on even footing for the summer.  Unfortunately, that's not the case, so we're going to have to make some hard decisions.  Closing our doors isn't currently on the table, but there are some definite ways in which this setback will be felt in the coming weeks and months:

  • Our hours will stay shortened.  Typically in the summer, we extend our hours later into the evening and open early some mornings to allow everyone to shop at their convenience, but that will not be possible this summer.  We cannot afford to hire any additional staff and we are committed to avoiding layoffs if at all possible, so we're going to have to maintain our current schedule, with the possibility of occasional exceptions for holiday and event hours.  This also means our customer service phone hours will remain limited to 9-5, Monday through Friday.
  • Our shelves will be thin.  Our first priority is making sure that we meet our obligations to all the customers who have special ordered or preordered books or who have ongoing Brilliant Books Monthly subscriptions.  Then we want to make sure that we have the latest releases, bestsellers, and high interest titles that make up a good portion of our daily sales.  But our budget only stretches so far, which means that the rest of the store will remain sparse.  We're doing our best to make sure that what we do have is the best of the best, but you may not find that hidden gem you normally would.
  • Wait times will increase.  As a consequence of a smaller inventory, it's likely that books that are ordered will first have to arrive from the publisher before we can ship them out to you or make them available for pickup.  Obviously, this will increase the wait time, but we are doing our best to make sure that these books are received and then packed up and shipped out the same day they arrive with us, usually within hours of coming through the door.
  • We can't be as Brilliant.  This is what really hurts about our current situation, and probably the most difficult aspect for our customers as well.  We can't provide you with the Brilliant experience you're used to.  Who wants a bookstore that's not open when you want to visit, with sparse shelves and slow order times?  We certainly don't want to be that bookstore and we know our customers are frustrated with that experience because we can (and usually do!) do so much better.  We are striving every day to get back to that level of service, and with your help, we'll get there sooner rather than later.

This is the biggest challenge we've had to overcome in the more than 15 years we've been in business.  It was a snowball effect of pandemic closures and supply chain issues, technology costs and changes to our staffing structure, the required restoration of our storefront and its overrun budget.  An excruciatingly slow winter and the complete failure of our server equipment was the last straw.  We've spent the first six months of 2023 clawing our way back toward stability, and we're close, but we can't get there alone.  

We are profoundly grateful for everyone who has showed their support so far.  We've said it before, but it bears repeating: we would not be here without you.  Your patronage and efforts to spread the word helped us make it to almost 75% of our Shelf Preservation goal, and that's exactly the kind of continued support we need to soldier onward.  If books aren't in your budget, tell your friends about us.  If you aren't sure how to help, buy a gift certificate to donate back and we'll use it during book fairs to make sure every student gets to go home with a book.  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, attend our events, and keep an eye on emails.  You might spot just the right book to give as a gift or a recommendation that really speaks to you.  And when you do find something you love, buy it from us so we know you appreciate what we've done for you.

We can get through this.  We'll keep doing our level best to get things back to normal and we know you'll be out there doing your best to support your very own Long Distance Local Bookstore.


Campaign Launch

Back in May of 2020, we created our Shelf Preservation campaign with the goal of making it through the first hard months of pandemic closures without resorting to drastic measures.  You all came through, helping us maintain a significant portion ($100,000) of our usual May income even with the doors closed.  It meant the world to us to know we have so many dedicated readers who value what we do.

The pandemic may have eased, but the trials of being a small business haven't.  This May, we're bringing back Shelf Preservation because, dear readers, we need your help.  We need to earn $200,000 by May 31st to help get things back on an even keel after the setbacks of this past season.

This winter was unexpectedly hard.  After a fantastic summer season during which we got to see some of our regulars for the first time since the pandemic began, things took a sharp turn.  Winters are always slow, but this one was demoralizing.  The store has been all but empty and we've heard less than usual even from our online visitors.  We've missed talking about books with our regulars and introducing visitors to our store.  Our savings, already depleted by expenses like the required restoration of our storefront and the equipment for our expanded book fair program, were wiped out utterly by our server failure in early January.  Not only did this mean even more added expenses, it came on top of store closures and lost income.  It was all money we didn't have, and, to be honest, still don't have.  

We may be struggling, but we're not beaten yet.  We're doubling down our efforts to help get things back on track, but we need your help to get there. 


How to Help

1. Vote with your dollar.  Money is tight for so many right now and we know it's unreasonable to ask everyone to just open up their wallets.  But if you're going to buy something anyway, you can always make it count.  Heard about a new book you want? Preorder it from us.  Planning to get your kids' teacher an end-of-year gift?  A Brilliant Books gift certificate is a great way to show your appreciation.  Need ideas for Mother's Day?  A Brilliant Books Monthly subscription reminds her how much you care every month!  If you like what we offer and what we do, the only way we can sustain that kind of programming is through your purchases.  You don't need to spend a lot to make a big difference to a small business.


Give Brilliant Books MonthlyPreorder a BookGive a gift certificate


2. Join us out in the community.  We have so many exciting events coming up, including lots of things planned for Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 29th!  From a guest appearance by North Sky Raptor Sanctuary (and a couple of their ambassador birds!) to handmade book marks our booksellers have crafted to give to each visitor, it's going to be a fantastic day from start to finish.  The following week, join us for Art Walk on Friday, May 5th, featuring artist Ethan William Colyer, or catch us at May Day Meltdown at Elev8 Climbing Gym on May 6th.  Grown Up Book Fairs, events during Pride Month, author meet-and-greets...our schedule is booked, and we'd love to see you at any (or all!) of our upcoming events.

Not local?  Not a problem!  We've got programming in the works that will help make it easier for all our bookish friends across the country and around the world to hear about what we're up to and participate.  We're considering expanding our virtual events, adding new options like a podcast or video content, and there's a full website overhaul in the works for this summer or early fall.  Got suggestions for what you'd like to see?  Leave us a note and we'll add it to the brainstorming sessions!


Independent Bookstore Day is April 29th 2023Join us for Art WalkBrowse More Events


3. Tell your friends.  We can sing the praises of Brilliant Books all day long, but nothing quite hits like a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust.  If you love what we do, chances are, so will your friends.  Introduce them to us!  We'd love to meet them.  We're introverts, so meeting new people is tough, unless, of course, we can skip the small talk and dive right into how much we love books.  


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4. Stay tuned for more.  We know this is a big ask.  We know $200,000 is a lot of money, especially in today's economic environment, but we're not asking for charity.  We want to do the work, to create a bookstore and a community hub that you love and cherish and want to see thrive for years to come, despite this setback.  We've got so much more to offer, both in the coming month and in the months and years to follow.  In the meantime, purchases of memberships, Brilliant Books Monthly subscriptions, gift certificates, and, of course, books all have an immediate impact.  Whether you're able to make a large purchase or only a small one, it all makes a difference and helps us toward our Shelf Preservation goal—and many more goals to come.

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