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Winter Park Bookstore Rethinks its Business Model During the Pandemic, Plans for Recovery

Photo: Danielle Prieur
Photo: Danielle Prieur

Starting on Monday, retail stores in Florida will be able to operate at 25 percent of their indoor occupancy under Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen the economy.

One of the stores that is considering whether to open its doors to the public for the first time since March is Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park.

WMFE spoke with Owner Lauren Zimmerman about what she thinks the recovery will look like.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

On how Writer's Block Bookstore has changed. 

"People aren't really looking for the new releases. They're just wanting suggestions or maybe they're picking out a book that they've always wanted to read and haven't really gotten around to it yet. All of our recommendations that we do are books that are actually on the shelf. Because ordering books right now from the publishers is also a problem."

On how puzzles are one of their best-selling items.

"When people were calling and asking for puzzles and saying they couldn't find them anywhere else, they couldn't find them at Target, I started ordering them. What was funny was that all the publishers now because of the shipping and trying to keep the safe distance, they're saying you have to buy a carton."

On the safeguards they're prepared to put in place. 

"So, yesterday I went to Target and I got a bunch of little dispensers for hand soap and I'm going to fill them up and put them throughout the store, and have them at the door when people come in and out. And then we'll also I'm assuming that the public will also be careful and keep safe distance when they come in."

On what the next few months might look like. 

"It's like you're just adapting to whatever is happening to you right now. So, when I've been asked what I envision or what I see when we open the doors. I actually cannot see it. I have no idea. It's really a fascinating time that we live in, especially today with the idea of reopening the store, reopening the community is happening within the next several days. We don't know what Monday's going to look like."

If you'd like to listen to the full conversation, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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