Nicole Magistro is trying to lead her bookstore into a new age and hoping to survive coronavirus. (Credit: Bookworm of Edwards)
Nicole Magistro is trying to lead her bookstore into a new age and hoping to survive coronavirus. (Credit: Bookworm of Edwards)

Her bookstore survived the rise of Amazon — can it survive coronavirus?

Judging by the outpouring of support on the GoFundMe page for The Bookworm of Edwards, located in the picturesque ski resort community of Edwards, Colorado, owner Nicole Magistro hopes the answer is yes.

“We’ve survived it all, so why can’t we survive this?” Magistro said from her home in Wolcott, Colorado. “It’s been fantastic in the sense that I was totally buried in emails right away. My customers were thanking me for asking for help, and donating large and small amounts.”

[Related: Hello Alice Offers $10,000 Emergency Grants for Small Businesses Affected by Coronavirus]

The Bookworm of Edwards is leveraging its kitchen to bring in some revenue. (Credit: The Bookworm of Edwards)
The Bookworm of Edwards is still paying employees to fulfill book and food orders. (Credit: The Bookworm of Edwards)

She received $50,000 in the first 48 hours of posting on the crowdfunding website.

“It was totally overwhelming,” said Magistro, who bought the store in 2005 from founder Kathy Westover. “It took my breath away. People just connect with the idea of the bookstore and what it means in their lives.”

The store has currently raised $65,255 of its $75,000 goal to keep operations somewhat running. Magistro is using the donations to pay about half of her 25-member staff, make rent and maintain partnerships and programming with nonprofits and schools.

While the shelves in the brick-and-mortar store are stocked with inventory for one of the busiest months — in time for Easter, with Mother’s Day and school graduations around the corner — Magistro has had to move 99% of her operations online.

But the bookstore cafe, which forced her to close her doors earlier than other retail outlets, on March 16, has been a saving grace. Her business has been deemed essential because of it, and she has leveraged the kitchen for soup and other food orders.

Magistro has been owner of the store since 2005. (Credit: Bookworm of Edwards)
Magistro has owned the store since 2005. (Credit: Bookworm of Edwards)

“It is what is allowing us to keep our operation going,” she said, adding that weekly “soup subscription” sales have quadrupled over the last week, and that companies are underwriting bulk food sales to healthcare workers and teachers.

“We are also selling groceries out of our kitchen and have amazing coffee beans and teas and all the alternative milks,” Magistro continued. “It helps people bring a little bit of The Bookworm home.”

And people seem to want to escape through literature. Online book sales have remained healthy, and her employees, who range in age from 18 to 72, are still offering “staff picks,” a beloved staple of local bookstores.

“It’s really helping to both keep the cash flow going and keep people working,” she said.

[Related: 10 Books to Keep Your Mind Sharp During Quarantine]

Magistro is also figuring out a new work/life balance — she and her husband trade off teaching their 8-year-old son; he takes the mornings while she homeschools in the afternoons.

“As a business owner, you work a lot generally, 40 to 50 hours a week,” she said. “So to be under this dramatic situation at work and have to pull 3 to 4 hours a day of my time in order to teach, it’s just a crazy balance.”

The hundreds of single donations ranging from $15 to $1,000 have not only provided critical financial assistance, but also a much-needed morale boost.

“I’m feeling a lot more hopeful than I was 10 days ago,” Magistro said. “Since then, a lot has changed. Leading up to the GoFundMe, I felt like I needed to take the support our bookstore has in the community and turn that into something.”