Indies Supporting Indies Featuring:
Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe
(one of the coolest places ever)
Malaprop’s first opened it’s doors in Asheville, North Carolina in 1982. This indie bookseller has been a downtown staple for nearly 38 years! I remember visiting Malaprop’s as a child when my mom or grandmother would do a ‘big trip into town.’ I would lose track of time sitting on the floor in the kids section flipping through books and escaping to different worlds.
As an adult I would frequent this bookseller whenever I wanted a unique book, card, or gift–but I especially loved Malaprop’s at the holidays.
When I worked at the salon full time, on my last day of work for the holiday season–which was usually December 24th–I would park downtown on my way home from work and go to Malaprop’s for all of my family’s gifts and also get them wrapped! For a busy professional like me it was amazingly convenient and I loved that I was shopping local.
Enter 2020: The Destroyer of Worlds
Like so many businesses in Asheville and across the United States, Malaprop’s has had to pivot and find new ways of doing business this year. This includes focusing more on online sales and shipping books to customers instead of an in-store, person-facing shopping experience.
20% of independent bookstores across America are in danger of closing
Malaprop’s has implemented new and innovative ways for shoppers to safely visit their store–including scheduled browsing appointment, where a shopper has the store practically to themselves to browse, purchase, and even partake in Malaprop’s complementary gift wrapping! Schedule your browsing appointment for the holiday ASAP.
There is also curbside pick-up and online ordering, as well as pre-ordering. Gift wrap is available for all purchases made online as well!
I did a virtual interview with Malaprop’s current owner Gretchen, to see how Asheville’s oldest indiebookseller is doing and how the community can support indie this holiday season and beyond.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview, I know this is a particularly busy time for booksellers! How have you and the Malaprop’s team been dealing with 2020?
Since late March, we’ve been down 70% in sales (!!!) but are surviving because of the strong support our community has shown us. Each online transactions takes three times as long as an in-person transaction, so while sales have been down, we are keeping busy. With reduced customer interaction, and reduced staff (many felt uncomfortable with public interaction- for good reason) we’ve become a tighter-knit family. We take turns buying coffee for each other, bring in home baked goodies, and sometimes do a simple breakfast run-biscuits! We all have a sense of humor-which is a survival necessity-and share the latest pet pictures with each other.
I know that you can pre-order, ship, and do curbside pick-up at Malaprop’s, and there is also free gift wrap available for books purchased at Malaprops.com, and I know that Covid has changed how Malaprop’s does business. If a shopper would like to browse the store and get their purchase gift wrapped is that available?
We are still doing free gift wrapping! Customers have a few wrapping options online-such as winter holiday, birthday, child’s birthday and our signature brown kraft paper.
If someone is in store browsing, we will definitely wrap their books for them! It might take us a minute longer, as we only have a few people working up front, but we definitely still offer the service. We still offer our bookmarks as well!
To keep everyone as safe as possible, we have a limited capacity for browsers-which in turn lends to a very special shopping experience- no jostling people out of the way! We are also not accepting cash at this time, but will still take checks if you are credit card wary.
And what if someone wants to support Malaprop’s but doesn’t have a gift or book in mind? Is there a way to donate or do a gift card?
If someone wants to support us without buying a specific thing, they can always buy a gift card for later use (they never expire) or they can make a donation-online or via snail mail.
We’ve received quite a few donations over the last 8 months, which helps with all of the shipping supplies we are now using!
The fact that we are still hanging on is amazing and due to the wonderful customers that have shopped with us over the last 38 years. Shout out to all of you all!
And that’s a wrap! Check out Malaprops.com if you are still shopping for gifts (Books Make Great Gifts!) and yes The Anchor of Time IS available on Malaprops.com for purchase — support two indies in one this holiday!