Monday, June 29, 2020

Mid-July reopening news

Hi all, it is with mixed feelings that I announce the necessity of reopening the shop, because I don’t think the business will survive much longer if I don’t. It’s been a tough haul since March 15 when we closed because of Covid. I am planning on reopening on a very limited basis in mid-July, so stay tuned for definite details as the date nears and I get more reopening preparations checked off on my to-do list. I take my responsibility in keeping both you and myself safe from unnecessary risks very seriously. Facemasks will be required for entry, and only 5 people will be allowed in at a time. Here’s to better days somewhere out there in the future. Stay safe and be well!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Notes on the current status of the Green Hand Bookshop

UPDATE: Hi everyone, I know there have been a lot of questions about when we're planning on reopening. I figured I should do a post so that everyone is on the same page. I am not planning on reopening the shop to the public for the foreseeable future. It is just too risky, and I care too much about my customers (and myself) to take unnecessary risks right now. I want you all to remain safe!

I am continuing to offer order pickup at the shop, and mailing services (which are very reasonable for shipping books via USPS Media Mail, hooray for the US Postal Service!!!).

For used books, the best way to inquire about and order them is to email me at michelle.souliere@gmail.com -- feel free to browse the shelfshots album here, or on Instagram (the posts are often slightly different, so feel free to browse both to get ideas). :) https://www.instagram.com/greenhandbooks/ If you need to call the shop, I'm generally in there running around putting orders together Weds-Sat 11:00-6:00.

Another option is to order via my new Shopify site at https://greenhandbookshop.com/, where I am gradually listing new retail items, adding new things whenever I have a spare moment (ha!).

For those of you who are struggling with decision making (and boy do I know the feeling), I have started putting together customized bundles. Pick a budget from $30 up (remember this will include sales tax and shipping if you need them mailed), email me your preferences:
-- what you're in the mood for (genre? topics? fiction/nonfiction?),
-- whether reading copies are okay for condition, and if you have a preference for hardcover vs softcover
-- give me an idea of what your past favorites are,
-- and let me know if there are any authors etc that you either have enough of already or don't like, so I don't send you something you don't want. ;)

I'll handpick you a book stack of your very own! :D Folks have been really happy so far, so it seems to be working well.

A lot of you have asked how things are going. "It's been a rollercoaster!" is the short answer, but because a lot of you have been so supportive, it seems to be working, and I'm squeaking by adequately to keep things going during these weird, weird times. I hope you're all hanging in there too.

Many thanks for everyone's help over the last 2 1/2 months. I couldn't do this without you all! 💕

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thank you everyone!

During Monday's workshop meeting of the Portland City Council it was decided that the city was not going to enforce the ban on mail order for retail businesses, until they can formalize and rewrite the order in the next official meeting (April 27). Thank you everyone for the support you gave towards the effort to make this happen! We couldn't have done it without you.

Thank you for speaking out in support of the survival of Portland's small businesses who were going to be decimated by this measure! We are able to continue to provide safe service to you all because of this.

Going forward, we are again able to provide mail order delivery of books to you. Please email michelle.souliere@gmail.com with your requests, and I will work through them as rapidly as I am able. Gift certificate orders are still being accepted, and obviously if anyone feels strongly enough that they want to make a donation, I will gratefully accept funds to assist in keeping the Green Hand Bookshop going during this dearth of "business as normal."

Please know (and this should be common sense) that I am not buying or trading books at this time, or for the forseeable future, and that the shop continues to be closed to the public.

Hopefully by sometime this summer it is possible that the Covid-19 outbreak will be leveling out, and with antibody tests in place we can start to plan out a return to "normal."

Thanks again, everyone! :)

Here is WGME's coverage of the events that culminated on Monday evening:
https://wgme.com/news/coronavirus/portland-clarifies-what-non-essential-businesses-can-do?jwsource=cl

Thursday, April 16, 2020

My response to the City of Portland Maine's new curtailment of subsistence-level small business activity

Here's my response to Portland's new curtailment of small business subsistence-level activities.

If you feel inspired to let the City know what you think, please contact the Mayor's Office and the City Councillors.
Contact info here (although please note Councillor Costa's email doesn't work): https://www.portlandmaine.gov/Directory.aspx?did=11

April 16, 2020

Dear Mayor Snyder and City Council members:

Today I received an email from the Portland Downtown District which included a link to a new FAQ about Covid-19 related restrictions in Portland. I was confounded by what I read. Suddenly non-essential businesses are not even allowed to ship items to people in need? I would like to know the reasoning behind this extreme override of the statewide restrictions that were being used as a standard.

I also would like to know how the City of Portland is ready to step in and assist its struggling small businesses and sole proprietorships, which are the backbone of Portland’s vaunted creative economy. We have no access to unemployment, and the promised grants and loans are nowhere to be seen. How are we to buy groceries? Pay the rent our commercial landlords are still charging us? Pay the rest of our bills?

Many of us were already stuck in a position where we were making the best of it, sole proprietors singlehandedly scrambling, working unpaid overtime to generate time-intensive mail orders that we then had to struggle to get packed and out the door to maintain even a crumb of our normal incomes, all while maintaining CDC sanitary guidelines. But even though we were working exponentially more to make substantially less money, we said, “It’s better than nothing.” “We don’t want to be a burden on the system.” You decided in one fell swoop to throw us to the wolves, the wolves of hunger, Portland’s wolfpack of greedy landlords, and the ceaseless maw of deeper-than-ever debt.

Why are you punishing us? For what gain? We are behaving responsibly. Unlike the people who, as I write, are littering Portland’s sidewalks with contagious cigarette butts, walking around without masks, behaving irresponsibly and not observing social distancing guidelines in grocery stores and out in public anywhere I’ve had to go on an essential errand?

How is walking to my shop (masked, not touching anything, not getting near anyone) and getting a small amount of fresh air and exercise on the way any different from all the people walking around everywhere? How is my putting an item in the mail any different from a private citizen (which I am as well) mailing something?

I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the actions of the city council (and grateful that two of you at least stood up to maintain sanity). I and other small business owners I know have been more responsible than most. I and my husband closed our shops to the public before the city bothered to begin its own closures, as did all the clothing consignment/thrift shop owners I know. I watch private citizens behaving recklessly all around me while I and my husband struggle. And then we get slapped back by the city, effectively told we don’t matter. The city council didn’t bother to tell us about this itself, or interact with us. Instead of asking how you can help, you have gone out of your way to hurt the bedrock of this city.

Are you going to tell my customers, who were depending on books to help maintain their sanity and educate their children during shelter-in-place, that it’s not in anyone’s best interest to allow safe, responsible business owners to navigate these terrible times? When liquor stores are considered “essential” and books and learning are not?

Tell me why all my pride and love for Portland and all the years of effort I’ve put in to continue to make this a livable city are being thrown back in my face with no justification.

I would like answers to my questions. Please don’t ignore my letter.

Sincerely,

MICHELLE Y. SOULIERE

Owner, The Green Hand Bookshop

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The latest update on closures

Hi folks, at a press conference today, the City of Portland announced a shelter-in-place order taking effect tomorrow, Weds March 25 at 5:00pm. I have linked to a report about it below.

What does this mean for the shop? It means I won't be available for local touch-free pickup any more, but (until otherwise announced) I can still mail items to your doorstep. You can email michelle.souliere@gmail.com if you have any requests and I will do what I can to fill them.

To those of you who have gone out of their way to try to buffer this blow by supporting the shop with your purchases of gift certificates and books, I cannot adequately express my fathomless appreciation. It has been tremendously touching to me to know that my business is not just a business, it's a big, wonderful, book-filled family that sprawls across the country and back. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. --Michelle

I hope you are all safe at home and staying well. It's important! Hang in there, everyone. We will get through this together. Stay smart!!!
Wonderful sketch from happier days by Jamie Hogan.
https://www.wmtw.com/article/portland-issues-stay-at-home-order-for-businesses-residents/31916507

Friday, March 20, 2020

Temporary closure - but you can still have books! Phew.

Hi folks -- After being open through the weekend (3/15), and weighing the options in my mind, I decided that instead of opening as usual for my normal winter hours on Thursday, for the time being, I will remain closed. Events have moved quickly, and to me this seems like the most responsible course of action.

However, if you would like to help the shop through this disastrous period with no income, there are several things you can do.

If you want to come pick up books, please email me at michelle.souliere@gmail.com with your wishlist (authors, titles, or subject matter, etc). I'll let you know which books I have, and we can go from there.

You can also call the shop at (207)253-6808. I will be in the store working and available for calls during these business hours: Weds-Sat 11:00-6:00 (minus trips to the post office), or you can leave a voicemail.

I am also very happy to ship books if you would like them to arrive at your doorstep. Media mail is an affordable option.

Another great option is to purchase a gift certificate, either for your own later use, or for someone who would love some books to get them through this period of social isolation.

To purchase a gift certificate in the amount of your choice for use at the Green Hand Bookshop, you can do one of the following:

1. Call the shop at (207)253-6808 during regular business hours. I will take your credit card number over the phone and process the purchase for you. I can mail the gift certificate to you or the recipient for free. If you get the shop voicemail, leave your name and phone number and I will call you back.

2. Send money via Venmo to @Michelle-Souliere -- don't forget to include your email and mailing instructions! :)

3. Mail a check or money order to the shop in the amount desired. Please include contact information in case of questions, and mailing instructions for the recipient.

Gift certificates can be used on any new or used items in the shop (661 Congress St, Portland ME), and do not expire.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions! :)

Take care, and be well!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

What's happening?

Hi all!

We're open today (Sunday) until 5:00 as usual, but like everyone, we're not sure what's going to happen in Portland over the next couple of weeks. We may close the door to foot traffic but will remain able to ship books to you, just email me at michelle.souliere@gmail.com with requests.

Be well, and stay tuned!