For Immediate Release
April 18, 2020, Orlando, FL – The last Saturday in April is usually a bustling day for independent booksellers across America as #IndependentBookstoreDay celebrates the tenacity and resilience of mom & pop bookstores thriving despite online retailers like Amazon.com and chain mega-bookstores. This year, as America “Shelters in Place,” the American Booksellers Association is instead joining the Book Industry Charitable Foundation with a rapid-response campaign to #SaveIndieBookstores as the coronavirus pandemic forms yet another threat to underdog book retailers.
#SaveIndieBookstores runs through April 30th and will give grants directly to independent booksellers with James Patterson kickstarting the campaign with a personal donation of $500,000 to help save independent bookstores across the country.
“In these uncertain times, it’s up to all of us to do our part and to help those in need however we can,” says Patterson. “The White House is concerned about saving the airline industry and big businesses – I get that. But I’m concerned about the survival of independent bookstores, which are at the heart of main streets across the country. I believe that books are essential. They make us kinder, more empathetic human beings. And they have the power to take us away—even momentarily—from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared. I hope that the funds we raise keep bookstores alive at a time when we need them the most.”
For one beloved Orlando specialty bookstore, Spiral Circle, this grant may help pay their employees until operations can rebound once the shelter-in-place order is lifted.
Spiral Circle Bookstore & More (www.spiralcircle.com) is a metaphysical bookstore founded in the spring of 1975 by Beverly & William Ford. Originally located in Winter Park under the name Sky Mother, the shop found a permanent home in 1978 in the Mills/50 District in an unassuming white house at the corner of Park Lake and Thornton Avenue. A destination for generations of Central Floridians, its legacy and mission was the prime motivation for new owners, Summer Rodman and Julie Wilder, to step forward last June.
Both seasoned business women, the new owners shifted operations to adjust to Florida’s shelter-in-place order with curbside pickup or shipping through its online store on the eve of their 45th anniversary serving spiritual seekers throughout Central Florida.
Rodman notes, “It is an honor to celebrate 45 years of Spiral Circle and our first anniversary as the new owners. It has given Julie and me so much joy as we steward the store around the next curve of the Spiral and we’re grateful to have both successfully stewarded our other businesses through the previous recession so we know how to adjust to challenging times.”
In quaint 1970’s fashion, the store was still using calculators to ring out customers as if time had stood still so the new owners were tasked with modernizing the systems. As they began filling the shelves with new books, fair trade and indie made merchandise, they also built an online store so this resilient shop was able to easily transition to online shopping early in the pandemic.
“Our apothecary section, in particular, has been very popular. We carry an entire line of herbal respiratory remedies and immune-boosting tonics that have been a relief for our patrons. Our oracle decks are also popular for those seeking inner reflection while candles, incense, and sage bring comfort and turn shelters into sanctuaries,” explained Julie Wilder, co-owner and store manager.
With over 1500 titles and over 2000 merchandise items online, Spiral Circle is finding new ways to connect with patrons online using social media to “go live.” A Facebook group connects members in a spirit of mutual aid to inspire and support one another. Their intuitive readers, used to giving on-site tarot readings now offer virtual readings using Zoom.
Wilder continues: “It’s a big technology shift for a once Luddite company, but I’ve been joking that we’re in a ‘new’ New Age. We are finding our way together, navigating these interesting times with lightness and focusing on bringing comfort and calm to our patrons. Our offerings are even more relevant now than ever.”
Shipping-only companies are allowed to continue operations under the City of Orlando shelter in place order, so one employee comes in per day, following CDC recommended guidelines for safe handling and social distancing. While sales are dramatically down during the shelter-in-place order, the new owners are optimistic about their chances of survival.
Efforts like #SaveIndieBookstores will help, but knowing their loyal patrons have given Spiral Circle it’s staying power for decades of up’s and down’s is what brings the most relief.
For their 45th Anniversary, Spiral will host a virtual anniversary celebration with rolling online sale throughout the month of May and special remembrance of Beverly Ford, the shop’s visionary who passed in 2016.
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Julie Wilder / firstname.lastname@example.org / 407-929-3564
About Spiral Circle
Located in the heart of Orlando, Spiral Circle is an anchor institution founded by Beverly & William Ford in 1975. A treasured “third place” Spiral is a gathering place and eclectic shop filled with books, wellness products and spiritual tools for many different paths.
- Online Store: https://www.spiralcircle.com/
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/spiralcirclebookstore/
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spiralcircle/
About Summer Rodman & Julie Wilder
Spiral Circe co-owners, Summer and Julie, are local business women with deep roots in Orlando’s community. Summer is CEO of one of Orlando’s oldest companies, Amazon Hose and Rubber, which just celebrated its centennial earlier this year. She has also been involved with the arts, notably at the Jack Kerouac House. Prior to Spiral Circle, Julie Wilder was a co-founder and co-owner of Dandelion Communitea Cafe until her exit in 2015. She was also the host of Front Porch Radio on WPRK 91.5fm and a co-founder of Orlando’s original “Think Local, First” movement, OurLando.
About James Patterson
James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author. The creator of Alex Cross, he has produced more enduring fictional heroes than any other novelist alive.
About the American Booksellers Association
Since 1900, the American Booksellers Association has supported independent bookstores as the industry’s national not-for-profit trade organization. Independent bookstores play a key role in their local economies and culture, and in the promotion of authors, books, and ideas. To support these efforts, the ABA provides indie bookstores with education, services, advocacy, and support. The ABA also actively supports and defends free speech and First Amendment rights and celebrates diversity.
About The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation
The Book Industry Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community. Established in 1996, the core program provides assistance to bookstore employees who have a demonstrated financial need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances. Since its inception, the organization has provided over $6.9 million in financial assistance and scholarships to more than 7,600 families. Support for the Foundation’s programs and services come from all sectors of the book industry. The Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the bookselling community through charitable programs that support employees and their families. The Foundation was imagined and built by booksellers and proudly continues to be their safety net. It is our vision to be a caring community of book people. Additional information can be found at http://www.bincfoundation.org.