Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening
Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a relatively new bookstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is facing a very uncertain future. The Latino-owned bookstore opened its doors to the Chapel Hill community six months ago and now COVID-19 is putting their future at risk.
Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a Latino-owned bookstore in North Carolina that is fighting to survive COVID-19.
Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews came from a need that the owners saw in downtown Chapel Hill. A bookshop had recently closed in the area so Jamie and Miranda Sanchez knew that it was time for them to help fill that sudden loss.
“We felt like there was a big hole in downtown,” Jaime told The Daily Tar Heel. “A bookshop creates this whole sense of community for the town so we decided to go forward and try to open our own bookstore.”
The bookstore was serving a community that needed a place to gather and discuss ideas after a former bookstore closed its doors.
“The core of our idea began years ago as the union of Jaime’s heritage and Miranda’s passion for writing and the transportive nature of reading. Wanderers and wonderers, our idea continued to grow in the plazuelas of Mexico and the chocolaterías of Spain, in the plazas of every country where such spaces form quasi-families for both the briefest of moments and the longest stretches of time,” reads the bookstore’s website. “In these spaces, people share everything from decadent chocolate to fried street food, to myth-like tales, to the memories of our own childhood selves chasing pigeons and sucking the sticky droplets from paletas off our hands.”
While the bookstore was well received by the community, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.
COVID-19 has swept through the U.S. and the number of cases continues to climb. While New York might be seeing fewer cases, the rest of the U.S. is in an uptick. The virus has forced businesses across the country to close or retool to be online only. That is what Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews did to make sure they can weather the storm.
The owners of the bookstore realized they needed to retool their business strategy when students stopped coming back from Spring Break.
“We started adjusting our plans in early March to accommodate for the new lack of traffic,” Jaime told NBC News. “Students weren’t coming back from spring break, so we had originally thought the locals would come out like they did during winter break to take advantage of the lack of downtown traffic, but that obviously didn’t happen because of coronavirus, so we started getting ready to adjust and pivot online for when we’d no longer be able to sustain brick and mortar operations.”
The Sanchezes are keeping their literary dream alive through the pandemic.
“Jaime’s always wanted to open a business and bring a piece of home to it,” Miranda, who is originally from Tijuana, told NBC News. “We felt that continuing that tradition of having a bookstore in the area would be a good mesh, not just of who we are as people but how we want to engage with our community. A community that works to sustain an independent bookshop has certain values.”
Independent bookstores are one of the hardest-hit businesses since readings and events in the spaces have been canceled.
Bookshop started to help struggling independent bookstores weather the storm. COVID-19 has left millions of people without jobs and businesses are having to close permanently because of the virus. Bookshop is giving independent bookstores a chance to survive the closures and social distancing.
Bookstores serve a vital role in communities. They give people a place to gather and share ideas. The easy access to literature can change the lives of children in underprivileged communities but allowing them to see themselves reflected in new lights. They also serve as a place to explore the world around you by flipping open a book cover.
If you have time on your hands and enjoy reading, check out Bookshop and build up that 2020 reading list.