Baltimore Bookstore Navigates COVID-19 Four Months After Opening
Updated: Jun 23
Charm City Books opened in October of 2019. Located on an “up and coming” main street in a small neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, they filled a unique local need as the next closest bookstore was Barnes and Noble, a mile away. The five block stretch has both a hip brewery and a slew of boarded up homes.
They couldn’t have predicted that four months after their grand opening, they would be forced to close their doors. Now, instead of booking meetings and concerts in their upstairs event space, they’re shifting their model to work through COVID-19.
What did they do?
1. Created an online store Beginning with books, the store quickly put its inventory online. Then they moved on to the locally-sourced gift items their patrons love - hand poured candles, tote bags, socks, and the favorite quarantine pastime: puzzles. Charm City Books, for example, built their site using Bookmanager - a platform specifically designed for bookstores. Other industry-neutral popular platforms that can help you get an e-commerce or catalog site up quickly are Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress.
2. Ramped up social media Charm City blasted an announcement on social media (primarily Instagram) with each addition to the online store. They introduced story time to their Instagram live. Virtual book clubs popped up. When schools closed, education resources were featured. Loyal customers helped out re-posting and sharing Charm City’s content. When planning how to use social media for your business, consider which platforms are best for your goals, using this eMarketer article as a guide, and where your customers are most likely to be, with these tips from Hootsuite.
3. Began a door-to-door delivery service While time consuming, deliveries within a local radius made customers feel special and seen. They also created unique relationship-building opportunities that are driving brand loyalty. One way to make delivery more feasible is to have a minimum order size. Charm City offered delivery on orders of $35+ within their local area.
4. Helped customers give back to front-line workers As a way to show appreciation for front-line workers and increase sales, the bookstore created “Charm City Cares Packages” for medical workers. They have a variety of price points and age ranges for packages of books and puzzles. Customers buy a certain type of package and the book store donates them to local hospitals on their behalf.