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Florida used bookstore seeking community support to survive during pandemic

The longtime Sarasota bookstore is struggling and looking to raise funds to keep the doors open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

SARASOTA, Fla. — The shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus earlier this year put a lot of businesses into a bind financially, especially small businesses.

In accordance with government orders, Brant’s Used Books in Sarasota closed its doors for two months during the height of the pandemic. The bookstore is well-known, having been in business for more than 60 years. 

"We have so much to choose from, all of our books are used and unique. We have some titles dating back to the 1500s," owner Barbara Barone said.

Baron started working at the bookstore as a teenager and over the years gained ownership of the store. 

"After Glen passed away, my mom bought the store and then when she passed I took over. I love the book store it means a lot to me," Barone said.

The pandemic presents challenges Barone and many other business owners weren't necessarily ready to take on, forcing Barone to get creative in finding ways to keep the store's doors open. 

"I've gotten serious about social media to reach the younger audience, we're putting our books online and I'm raising funds to help, too. I don't have a big staff or anything, everything that falls behind, falls on me," Barrone said.

The goal is to have the donated funds available to pay the store bills and upkeep an online inventory where people could buy books online.

Credit: Brants' Used Books

Barone says some of her monthly bill collectors appear to be understanding and willing to work with her. However, Barone said she applied for financial assistance but as of late hasn’t gotten any funding. 

"A loan wouldn’t really help. Honestly, I would have no way of paying it back," Barrone said.

Now more than ever, Brant's Used Books is looking to the community for help to stay afloat. 

"We were closed in the spring because of the pandemic and the spring months are usually better for us sales wise and the summer months are slow and tough," Barrone said.

Barrone hopes to have success with the fundraising efforts and is currently only accepting a limited amount of book donations for safety reasons and sanitizing everything with Lysol. Brant's Used Books is also offering curbside pickup and online ordering to customers who call ahead. 

The store is operating at its normal business hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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