Before the pandemic, Left Bank Books’ annual sales were approaching $2 million, mostly from in-store sales.
Most of Left Bank Books’ employees have been taking shifts filling no-contact orders at the Central West End shop since its mid-March shutdown to customers due to the pandemic.
But when Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of the independent bookstore, entered in the first few days of its new format, she discovered something unusual: The staff works with the lights off.
“I’m surprised that they seem very happy to work in the dark all day,” she said.
But that’s about the only thing good about operating in the dark.
Before the pandemic, Left Bank Books’ annual sales were approaching $2 million, mostly from in-store sales. But once the pandemic forced Left Bank to close to in-person customers, the future looked bleak. A rough first quarter didn’t leave it with enough revenue to meet expenses.
Hitting that $2 million projection remains an unknown, but the shift into an online and phone ordering format is giving it a fighting chance. While the cost-per-sale online is higher, Left Bank is selling a lot more: Sales in April were 24% higher than a year earlier. And sales in May are already 28% over a year ago.