MEDIA COVERAGE

Pandemic Pushes California Bookstores to Find Innovative Ways to Keep Customers

By Reuters
May 8, 2020

DELIVERING BOOKS TO HOMES

Delivering the books turns out to be much cheaper and quicker than mailing them – a 20-minute drive in Sacramento delivers a book when the same package dropped in the mail or sent by a shipping company would take 10 days, Ross Rojek said. Rather than order from Amazon, which is rushing to fulfill orders during the pandemic, customers can buy a book by phone or online, and get a quick neighborhood delivery or pick it up, he said.

Customers have come to feel so involved with the store some have offered to take books around their own neighborhoods to other customers. On the floor of the store are about a half-dozen bins with the names of Sacramento neighborhoods scrawled on them, ready for delivery.

That personal involvement has helped keep many independent bookstores viable in the age of Amazon, and owners hope the innovations and connections forged during the coronavirus crisis may strengthen their place in the community going forward.

At Capital Books in downtown Sacramento, owners Ross and Heidi Rojek have moved office equipment into their front showroom, since customers can’t come in anyway, and begun personally driving books to purchasers’ homes.

Independent California Bookstores Innovate to Keep Customers Amid Pandemic

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At Capital Books in downtown Sacramento, owners Ross and Heidi Rojek have moved office equipment into their front showroom, since customers can’t come in anyway, and begun personally driving books to purchasers’ homes.

They’ve replaced a big display of books at the front of the store with boxes of puzzles, set near the door so customers craving a quarantine activity will see them as they walk by or arrive to pick up other orders.

“Puzzles are a hot item right now,” Ross Rojek said, waving at the floor-to-ceiling display. The couple had expected sales to drop during the shutdown, but locals are ordering lots of books, puzzles and games, stopping by to pick them up or asking the Rojeks to drop them at their homes.

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Visit Sacramento Podcast: Heidi Rojek of Capital Books on Supplying Books During Pandemic

Thursday, May 7, 2020 10:00 AM by Brandon Darnell

Capital Books opened a little over a year ago on K Street in downtown Sacramento next to the Crest Theater, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, owners Heidi and Ross Rojek quickly pivoted their business to online-only sales, with delivery, curbside pickup and shipping to meet the increased demand as people were sheltering in place.

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