Russell Books is one establishment that is still keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-owner Andrea Minter just got off the phone with a puzzle distributor on Friday morning and secured a last batch of products before there could be a wait.
“That company is running out of stock and will be out of puzzles for months,” she said. “We’re just getting tonnes of orders for puzzles.”
Russell Books is a downtown Victoria staple now operating in a unique way, taking orders from people looking for a good read or some entertainment during self-isolation while keeping doors closed. The orders have been consistent, Minter said, keeping the handful of remaining staff busy with emails and phone calls.
More than 50 staff members were let go due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just one of the many tasks Minter had to tackle after she and her family were recalled from their vacation in Hawaii before borders closed.
Now in self-isolation for two weeks, Minter has been coordinating her business from home.
When people place orders for books and puzzles they pay over the phone or online before staff members give them a window to pick up their products. Customers wait outside and staff hand the books through the front door. People can also pay for shipment and have items delivered to their door.
“It’s working really well,” Minter said. “It’s really quite simple, quite easy.”
Some of the most popular reads are children’s education books, as well as books on spirituality and cooking.
“I think people are looking to spirituality for some self comfort and ease in these times,” Minter said. “And I think parents are still trying to keep their kids educated with the schools closed.”
Minter said that her family has certainly enjoyed having a little more time together to sit down and read, and suspects other families have, too.
“It helps bond your family together, and maybe people don’t always get to do that,” she said. “That’s got to be something good from all this.”