By Sharon Kelly | CNA Media Team
The bookshop in the little red house at 1600 N.E. Alberta St. is finding new ways to stay in business during Oregon’s COVID-19 “stay home, save lives” order by offering online sales, delivery and pick up.
Green Bean Books – which its website calls “a wild and whimsical community-based, independent children’s bookstore” – celebrated its 10th anniversary recently as a traditional, brick and mortar bookstore.
Customers enjoyed perusing the shelves and colorful displays for the latest award-winning books and unique gifts for human “beans” from babies to grown-ups. But owners Jennifer Green and Maggie Yuan are not the type to sit behind the counter.
Since opening, they’ve shared their love of books and community with a calendar chock-full of fun book-related experiences and events.
On a typical, pre-COVID-19 week at Green Bean, you’d find multiple read-aloud story times, author events, sing-a-longs, monthly opportunities for new readers to read to Buddy the therapy dog, and crafts and puppetry, sometimes with unicorn or dragon themes.
When Portlanders began staying home in March, Green Bean’s regular activities came to a halt. Jennifer and Maggie were faced with either closing the doors or finding innovative ways of connecting with customers.
“We’re working about five times harder per sale, but we have so many kind and encouraging customers,” shared owner Jennifer Green.
First they offered customers online ordering and shipping for audio and traditional books through GreenBeanBooksPDX.com. Now, customers may also call 503. 954.2354 or email Info@GreenBeanBookspdx.com for delivery within two miles – it’s free with a nominal minimum purchase. Like many other stores on Alberta Street, curbside or no-contact-pick-up from the porch is also offered.
Green Bean Books has been able to continue to employ two staff members to help with orders and deliveries. They’re available 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. to place your order or ask for book or toy recommendations. As always, they can special order almost any book, for any age, or mail a gift certificate. They’ll even wrap your gift and deliver it to your friend’s or loved one’s porch.
Not long after the “stay home, save lives” order, they resumed their events schedule, now online, including virtual story-times, author activities and drawing classes. Check Facebook.com/pg/greenbeanbooks/events or follow @GreenBeanBooks for details.
“We feel lucky that the community loves books and loves to read,” Jennifer said, as she recounted customers calling to thank her for being open and bringing flowers.
One even created a chalk sign for outside the door, artfully inscribed, “We love Green Bean Books!”
Green Bean fosters numerous partnerships throughout the year, including bringing books to life onstage with Oregon Children’s Theater, and creating fun, interactive bookraisers for the Rigler School Library and the Children’s Book Bank.
If you’re looking for ways to support local families less fortunate during the COVID-19 crisis, call Green Bean Books and ask about purchasing a book bundle to donate to the Children’s Book Bank. Store employees will deliver your bundle to the book bank to be distributed to children in need in the Portland area.
Generally at this time of year, Green Bean is also busy coordinating spring school visits with author and illustrator presentations at numerous area schools. “School closures will account for a large amount of lost revenue in book pre-orders and sales from those visits.” Jennifer reported.
She looks forward to reopening the store soon so customers can enjoy the big, sunny, flower-filled garden and deck; explore the magical umbrella tree; peruse the theme sections like earth science, bedtime, poetry or fairy/princess; sign up for summer cartoon camp; and/or curl up with a book and a friend on the comfy green couch.
Sharon Kelly uses her outreach and coordination skills to support trees, farmers, small businesses and engage her neighbors and all of Portland to create more healthy, equitable, sustainable communities. A farmer at heart, she’s happiest in her wild gardens with towering herbs. She’s best known locally as market manager for Cully and Woodlawn farmers markets and as web manager for Trees for Life Oregon. Contact her at NaturalFarmerPDX@gmail.com