Here's how New England bookstores are coping with the snow

Some stores are trying to bring in customers with special discounts, while others in particularly hard-hit areas like Boston are working hard just to keep their locations open.

Elise Amendola/AP
Three students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology jokingly use mountaineering gear to make their way down from a massive snow pile on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass.

Many New England residents are tired of slogging through snow and sweeping it off their roofs, but their day-to-day lives aren’t the only things affected by the weather – some New England bookstores are struggling to sustain their businesses as fewer patrons venture out. 

As recorded by the Associated Press, snow that arrived on Valentine's Day weekend was the fourth big storm to arrive in the area in less than a month. A “snow day,” when state offices and businesses shut down the weather, costs Massachusetts $265 million, according to the Boston Globe. After more snow was predicted for Feb. 14, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker declared the days after to be “Valentine’s Week” to try to get more patrons into businesses, according to the Associated Press.

The Boston Globe spoke with staff at Boston-based independent bookstore store Brookline Booksmith, who said business is down 25 percent from this same point last year. 

“With the snow, people are just worn-out and frazzled,” Booksmith co-owner Dana Brigham said. “They aren’t going out for dinner, a movie, and a browse at the bookstore." 

Delivery trucks can’t get into the store because of the snow and staff have struggled to get into work because of the transportation problems with both the MBTA and the roads, while many events at the store have been called off.

“All these ordinary things become much more difficult,” Brigham said.

She spoke with local TV network NECN about Presidents’ Day, which normally would be a big sales day, according to Brigham.  “The store would be packed on a holiday Monday, so we have had many fewer customers, certainly,” she said.

And the MBTA’s problems haven’t just affected staff, she told NECN. The Green Line T branch near them has been completely canceled on multiple days recently.

“[That was] brutal,” she said. “Brutal. We get so much foot traffic from the T a block away. It's really reduced our foot traffic.” 

Meanwhile, other New England bookstores have tried to make the snow work for them. Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H. declared Feb. 15 to be "Double Stamp Snow Day," according to the store's Facebook page. "Today only – for every ten dollars you spend, you'll get two stamps on your Frequent Buyer Card instead of one," staff wrote. "Get shoveled out and come on down!" 

The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont also tried to lure customers in with discounts. "We are sick of the cold!" staff wrote on the store's Facebook page on Feb. 17. "The heat is cranked up and it's delightfully warm at the store. So, come on in, spend some time browsing and if buy a book with the word sun or warm in the title, we'll give you 20% off today only."

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