Iconic Paris Bookstore Saved by Patrons

Source: Good News Network

Like many companies during the pandemic, landmark Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, has experienced a devastating decline, forcing owners to change their business model. 

Second-generation proprietor Sylvia Whitman said in an interview with Afar, “We’ve been [down] 80% since the first confinement in March, so at this point, we’ve used all our savings.”

However, after an appeal to its customer base, the store astonishingly  received an excess 5,000 orders in one week – compared to their average of less than 100. 

So overwhelmed by the orders, the store had to shut down its e-commerce site to catch up with the demand.

Further, Whitman continued her innovative business strategy by creating Friends of Shakespeare and Company fund.  This new membership initiative helps patrons support the bookstore during the pandemic.  Members are offered access to online special events, sales, and access to other perks aimed at avid bibliophiles.

This is not the first time Shakespeare and Company has been supported by its patrons during a crisis.  Originally founded in 1919 by owner Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company is the salon where Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce made themselves at home. 

Additionally, Beach holds the honor of publishing the first edition of Joyce’s Ulysess, which was considered scandalous for the time.

During the Great Depression, the bookstore launched a series of readings and other in-store events allowing patrons to socialize with many notable literary luminaries.

Further during Nazi occupation in 1941, according to store legend, Beach had refused to close shop and refused to sell her last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake to a Nazi officer.

Whitman said she is guided by a motto on the bookstore’s wall, “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”

Source: Good News Network