FALMOUTH – If you were stuck in your house unable to work for seven weeks, what would you need?
In this extraordinary situation, no one could argue about the benefits on health and wellness of a good book—not to mention a very challenging jigsaw puzzle. Offering those items is how one local business, Eight Cousins in Falmouth, is keeping their business going during the pandemic crisis.
Caitlin Fitzgerald, Communications and Program Coordinator at Eight Cousins, is in only her fourth week at her new job as she is answering questions about what Eight Cousins is doing to serve the community.
“We’re continuing to take orders over the phone, offering curbside service and customers can call to find out about delivery options,” Fitzgerald said.
Eight Cousins co-owner Sara Hines said, “Connecting with stories is really important right now.”
Hines said store staff work with customers on what is the best delivery method, but, she added, “There is plenty of parking on Main Street now.”
The store created a form people can access on their website if customers are looking for a certain book but are not sure what it is, Fitzgerald said. As they always have done, staff, in this case the store’s owners who are the only ones on site right now, can offer suggestions.
Besides books, the popular Main Street bookstore has seen a run on puzzles, said Hines. “They’ve been quite popular,” she said.
The store stocks a variety of puzzles, from those geared toward kids to more challenging puzzles geared toward adults.
Besides providing something to do, Hines said puzzles also give families a fun activity to do together. “People are doing communal activities,” she said, of families sequestered in their homes.
The store has posted a few puzzles on their Instagram page and received a tremendous response, she said.
Among those is the 1,000-piece puzzle Jane Austen Book Club puzzle, which received 40 likes on Instagram. “People are going for something challenging,” she said.
“And, that takes a lot of time,” Fitzgerald added.
Along those lines, Fitzgerald said activity books for children, including Sudoku and crossword puzzles, have also been popular, along with books about crafts to make at home and an old standard, coloring books.
“They combine activities and education,” Fitzgerald said.
“Connecting with stories is really important right now.” Sara Hines, Co-owner, Eight Cousins Bookstore
Among books being requested at Eight Cousins, Fitzgerald listed the 2018 bestselling novel “Where the Crawdad Sings,” by Delia Owens, as a big seller in recent weeks at Eight Cousins.
As for non-fiction, another frequent request, she said, is the recently released book, “The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz” by Erik Larson.
“That’s been very popular,” she said.
Hines thought back to mid-March when Falmouth public schools were closed. “A teacher came in early on and wanted a murder mystery,” Hines said, adding that some may be looking for a book to provide a temporary escape from current events.
Hines said people’s interests vary, as they always have. “People are looking for recommendations or specific books. That hasn’t changed,” she said.
Reading is providing not just activity for individuals and families but also togetherness. “We’re hearing about family book clubs where families read a book together, and virtual book clubs, in which an existing book club of friends has moved online,” Hines said.
“We’re so appreciative that everyone is making an effort to buy books and connect,” Fitzgerald said.
Hines said she stays in touch with other independent bookstores on the Cape, like Titcomb’s in Sandwich, which is offering a similar call up service.
She also put a plug in for her fellow Main Street businesses, some of which may look closed but are also offering call in or delivery service. “We all want to keep going through this. I hope people will call and see what’s going on,” she said. “That’s the best recommendation.”
“People are looking for recommendations or specific books. That hasn’t changed.” Sara Hines, Co-owner, Eight Cousins Bookstore
While customers can order from Eight Cousins over the phone, they cannot enter the store. But from the outside, they can still enjoy the view of the newly decorated window display in the iconic and immense arched windows.
Hines said Joanne Skudder, a gift buyer for the store, is behind the new window decoration, a huge elegantly-arching mosaic rainbow that begins in an open book.
Hines said, “We hope it gives something to the community: hope and inspiration.”
For our other coverage of Cape Cod during the coronavirus, see Cape Cod Covidispatch
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