Anderson's Bookshop customers raise $40K to help pay staff, rent amid COVID-19 pandemic

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The owner of a longtime neighborhood bookseller is turning to crowd funding to keep their suburban stores afloat during this pandemic.

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The origins of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville go back more than 100 years and now there are additional locations in Downers Grove and La Grange. The founder's great-great-granddaughter is co-owner with her two brothers.

"We've never experienced anything like this before," owner Becky Anderson said.

With sales down 55 %, Anderson and a skeleton staff fill online orders for contactless pick-up.

"I was hoping that the services they have - order online and there's pick-up at the store, there's delivery - would help, but I know losing all the foot traffic and all that has got to be tough," customer Jennifer Kennedy said.

While Anderson waits to finds out about small business loans, she turned to crowd sourcing.

"It just shows they appreciate us and they want to make sure we are here when the new normal takes place and that's just so heartwarming," Anderson said.

A page set up over the weekend has raised more than $40,000 to pay staff and rent.

Anderson's has three retail locations - two where they rent - and a wholesale arm that does book fairs for schools that has completely stopped, so the longtime family business now leans on its loyal customers.

"If we don't connect with community and we don't support the community, and they support us, we wouldn't be here," Anderson said. "So I know that's why we're gonna survive."

The business that survived the Great Depression and the Spanish flu is now encountering a modern pandemic. With technology and generosity, the Anderson family hopes to continue its small business book seller legacy.

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