CANBY — "It has definitely been an odd time," is how Megan Waterman has described the state of things during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a small business owner in Canby, Waterman has seen business slump, but also has found ways to stay in the game. As the owner of The Book Nook, she realized that innovative ideas and perseverance were going to be key.
"I feel lucky that we're able to work in even a limited capacity," Waterman said. "We closed our in-store browsing, but we do have an online website."
But that wasn't all. Waterman has seen social media activity blossom and created the Boredom Buster Bundle, which helps get books into the hands of adults and children who'd like them. It's simple, really. There's a link on the store's website that let's you order. People choose a genre, answer a few questions about interests and other things, and Waterman then goes shopping around her store for three to four books that, hopefully, will offer a surprise mixed with reading satisfaction.
"This has gone really well," she said. "We have delivered these all the way out to Wilsonville and have had some repeat orders. I find it fun to run around the store and find a custom variety of books to surprise them with. We also include custom buttons and other things to cheer people up."
That resourcefulness and willing attitude to look into other avenues of doing business have helped, though Waterman admits that the Book Nook is operating at about 50% of what it normally brings in financially.
"So far, we have been able to pay our bills, we just don't pay ourselves anymore," Waterman said. "Our customers are great and have been willing to adapt with us. I've done a video chat with one customer, taking them around the store to show them what we have and help them pick things out."
Waterman said social media has played a much bigger role in the store's finances, something she thinks will continue moving forward. The current situation also has created some fun situations, including a mom and young girl out for a walk when they decided to shop.
"This is one of my favorite shopping experiences — they knocked on the window and asked me to hold up picture books and turn the pages so the girl could pick one out," said Waterman, who added that the store partnered with the Kiwanis to travel around Canby and replenish "tiny libraries" with her overstock books.
Despite the difficulties, both personal and financial, Waterman sees good signs. "Our experience is that Canby is a supportive community and willing to work outside the box with us," she said. "We keep talking about when will things get back to normal, but I think that's probably a long time — things will look different for a while," she said. "We'll keep some of what we're doing now, the Boredom Buster Bundle and, hopefully, we can start to see limited access or small groups allowed to come in soon."
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