VERNON HILLS, IL—Imagine pulling up curbside to pick up an order of books, only to be met by a friendly T-Rex or a giant yellow crayon holding a black bookbag. It’s all part of an effort by Barbara’s Bookstores to keep children learning, their parents from going crazy, and a few workers employed.
“Books are crucial during this period when many families are stuck at home in an effort to remain safe,” says Don Barliant, co-owner of Barbara’s Bookstores.
Currently, all Barbara’s Bookstores remain closed, in compliance with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Executive Order requiring all Illinoisans to stay home. But, in an effort to keep some workers employed, the local bookseller is offering special services such as curbside pickup and home delivery services to customers who live nearby.
Most of the company’s booksellers have been laid off, but bookstore managers located in Burr Ridge, Glenview, Vernon Hills, and Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, continue to work inside the store. They work alone, or work with one or two others. All keep a safe distance from one other and practice safety measures while boxing books, taking phone orders, and offering ‘personal shopping’ services. That includes searching for specific books or giving advice about unique gifts such as puzzles, crafts, and journals. Georgette Coan, who manages the Hawthorn Mall bookstore, says the customers love it.
“We are trying to take the customer’s mind off troubled times,” says Coan. “When you call us and order a book, we’ll bring it out to you!”
What more can a book lover ask?