The best way to support local retailers is still to make your purchases direct from the shop

With the city still largely shuttered by the coronavirus, independent bookstores, like virtually every other business, have had to alter the way that they operate. This means customers can’t browse the aisles, and the Book Loft’s skeleton lord is running woefully short on human sacrifices. (And even with the "stay at home" order set to lift for most retailers in a couple of weeks, there remains a question of when shops might actually invite customers back inside.)

But fear not! Most of Columbus’ indies are still operational. Here’s a rundown of the ways that these shops are conducting business these days.

Two Dollar Radio Headquarters

The South Side merchant is currently offering 15 percent off all books and merchandise purchased through its website with the entirely apt code UGH2020. Orders are shipped out every day except Sunday. In addition, Two Dollar Radio is selling food for curbside pickup or delivery within a 5-mile radius of the store. The menu is offered from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 11:30 a.m-2 p.m. on Saturday. If you order a book with your food, co-founder Eric Obenauf said Two Dollar will include it along with your delivery. Also, Obenauf cautioned that while he’s seen a recent surge in publishing-related articles about the ways online startups support local shops, the best way to support indie bookstores is still to purchase from them directly.

Gramercy Books

The lovingly curated Bexley bookseller is currently conducting transactions three ways: Customers can place orders online and have them shipped direct (orders of $25 or more are shipped free); orders can be placed online for curbside pickup, which is available seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and the store is also fielding curbside pickup orders by phone at 614-867-5515 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

The Book Loft

A favorite of Alive readers, the Book Loft is currently conducting all business via mail orders placed on its website. A popular choice of late has been the Malamarkus Mystery Box, a reader roll of the dice that allows the Book Loft’s employees to curate a surprise batch of books just for you. Just don’t expect to find any J.D. Vance. Oh, and the shop is still very active and very excellent on Twitter.

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Prologue Bookshop

In addition to online sales, which can be shipped anywhere in the U.S., Prologue also has digital audiobooks available through a partnership with libro.fm. The store is also likely to begin offering curbside pickup and local delivery in mid-May. Via email, owner and manager Dan Brewster said the shop has no timetable for reopening, and would do so “only when we feel that we can adequately protect our employees and our customers.”

Cover to Cover Children’s Books

Cover to Cover has tried to adapt the process of window shopping to its website, creating specific landing pages for each physical store window (currently Activity, New Novels and Award Winners). A QR code in the window of the shop links directly to the landing pages on the website. The store also offers sales and recommendations either by email or phone, with calls taken at 614-263-1624 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bonus: Comic shops

The Laughing Ogre is currently accepting mail order requests via email at laughingogreohio@gmail.com. The store is also keeping comic fans updated on new shipments via its Facebook page. Krazzy Comics in Gahanna is also offering mail order via its website. In addition, co-owner Allen Harrington has been conducting Facebook live sessions most nights, discussing new comic shipments and shop-related developments, along with personal anecdotes.