“How nice that you have reopened!” a local woman shouted gleefully as she entered the Italian bookshop.
Libreri Lauri, a bookstore, located in Via dei Faggi, Italy, has deep roots, passed down through three generations of the same family over 55 years. The store had been shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, and their closure was painful for those who rely on it for news, entertainment, and as a place to exchange stories and ideas. When they reopened in April, they were warmly welcomed by the community they serve.
The bookstore began as the dream of a warehouse worker who saved every penny until he had enough for a small retail space. As the book business took off, Libreri Lauri moved into a much bigger space where it’s currently located today. Libreri Lauri is currently owned by Anna di Marco, daughter of the original owner, and she runs it with help from her own daughter Luana.
Independent bookstores were struggling, even before the pandemic. They were once a place where the community could gather, recommend books, chat, and maybe find their next favorite story. But pandemic closures and large e-commerce have hindered this in-person business model. Luana tells us, “People no longer stop to talk as they did before the pandemic. They ask how many people are inside the shop before entering because they are afraid of crowded places.”
Luckily, Luana is not just a book lover, but she’s also an avid Wish shopper. One day last year she noticed a coveted item was available locally through the Wish Pickup Now feature. She quickly bought the item and raced over to the neighborhood tobacco shop to retrieve her order, which was ready in 5 minutes. Luana says, “I asked the [tobacco] store owner how they got access to the program. They kindly explained everything to me and once I got back home, I signed up immediately!” And with that, Libreri Lauri joined the Wish Local family.
Prior to the pandemic, the bookstore enjoyed Wish Local and the large influx in foot traffic from Wish shoppers. Luana says, “We started receiving orders for pickups and we never stopped. After a few months, Ship to Store became our fortune. In less than one year we made more than 2,000 pickups.” She estimates that 30% of Wish shoppers go on to buy books when they come to collect their packages.
Despite the challenges posed, the di Marco family is determined to reinvent their business to fit the changing economic climate. By joining Wish Local, Libreri Lauri puts their products in front of a larger network of local shoppers and digitalizes their retail business. The store is beginning to experiment with selling their products online with Sell on Wish to reach customers who are skeptical about shopping in person due to pandemic concerns. “I uploaded nine new SKUs just this morning,” Luana boasts.
Libreri Lauri is here to stay, because no pandemic or online experience will ever be able to destroy the magic of the retail bookstore. Luana says it best, “Reading, drawing and coloring is what a child can do to imagine a better world…We can give them dreams. In every book there is a dream to be lived.”