Kelowna's Mosaic Books was well-positioned for the pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna's Mosaic Books was well-positioned for the pandemic

FILE PHOTO - Owner Michael Neill, of Mosaic Books, examines a book.
September 06, 2020 - 6:00 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused some businesses to permanently close their doors, but one Kelowna bookstore was able to turn a new page because of it.

Mosaic Books quickly adapted its business for curbside pickups back in April when the store’s physical location was closed, and the number of online orders that came in during that time was surprising, said manager Alicia Neill.

“We became like an online store which was the easiest way to process orders through and we had limited staff,” she said. “We originally thought things would peter off… but then we noticed the increase and the need for some books at home, and luckily we had a whole store full of stuff.”

They’ve had an online website for years, but the site experienced a 600 per cent spike in puzzle sales alone during the shutdown. While the store’s overall sales were only a fraction of regular store sales during that time, the bookstore has seen a steady increase in online traffic since.

Mosaic Books manager Alicia Neill.
Mosaic Books manager Alicia Neill.
Image Credit: Facebook/Mosaic Books

“Once we reopened, we’ve found that we had a big increase in online orders,” she said, estimating they used to have one online order per day and now have an average of between seven to 12 books.

“As we get closer to the Christmas season, I think it’s going to be a longer season and everyone is going to start shopping now and people are going to be using online a lot, so we’re going to try and tweak our model and make sure we’re able to meet that demand and the demand in store now,” Neill said.

Fiction was a popular choice during the shutdown, as was anti-racism-themed books around the time that George Floyd was killed, she said. Gardening books, which have been on the decline for the last few years, also saw a spike, as well as baking books.

READ MORE: How small local bookstores survive in the age of Amazon

“The only time we had a problem book-wise was our bargain books… and any of our gifty lines,” she said, because customers typically like to peruse the bargain section, but lots of kids fiction flew off the shelves.

When the store reopened in June, the bookstore saw a spike in sales compared to last year, but with the downtown COVID-19 cluster announced after July-long private parties and gatherings, residents stayed away.

“We’re probably about par (compared to last year),” she said, adding that locals are making up for the lack of tourist traffic.

Neill believes with the news that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos might become the world’s first trillionaire in the next few years, more people are wanting to shop local.

“I think people look at that and say ‘why are we giving money to this man?’” she said. “I think people look at that and think ‘my money will be better spent in my community.’”

Neill said without Book Manager, an organizational software developed by Mosaic that allows bookstore owners to handle every avenue of their business, the store wouldn’t have been able to reopen.

“We had to process so many more orders than we could have done over the phone,” she said, adding customers are now using the book store’s website to reserve the books and then pick them up at the store.

“We did well considering what could have happened for us."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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