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Pandemic Forces Beloved California Bookstore to Close

Pandemic Forces Beloved California Bookstore to Close

"Pandemic Bookstore Closure"

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a distinct mark on the economy, particularly affecting small businesses across California. A prime example is The Book Rack, a cherished local bookstore, now preparing to close its operations. This charming bookstore, known for its eclectic new and used book selection, has been a hub for avid readers, symbolizing the impact of the pandemic on local businesses.

Despite efforts to adapt with online sales and curbside pickups, the economic repercussions of the ongoing health crisis have proven to be challenging. The imminent closure draws sorrow from the bookstore’s loyal customers and the wider Californian community.

Karen Kropp, the manager of The Book Rack, has struggled with declining sales due to the shift towards online shopping and the pandemic’s restrictions. She’s resorted to tapping into her life insurance policy in a bid to keep the business afloat.

On the cusp of her 79th birthday, Kropp is closing this chapter due to financial constraints and preparing to relocate from Southern California to Albuquerque to reside with her younger sister. This mix of emotions is paired with optimism for the opportunities that retirement brings, hoping this shift will offer much-needed quality time spent with her sister and an immersion into Albuquerque’s distinct culture.

Concerning the financial aspects, Kropp expects to have a tight budget. The University of Massachusetts Boston suggests a person in her position needs a monthly budget of $2,915, yet she will subsist on a $1,200 monthly Social Security payment, after insurance premiums. This figure rings sobering bells of the financial realities many retirees face.

Nari Rhee of the UC Berkeley Labor Center expresses concerns over this issue, stating that the estimated requirement is nearly double the average Social Security payout in California, noting the increasingly worrying trend of retirees sliding into poverty.

The last year has been hard for The Book Rack, with the rise of Amazon and COVID-19 causing sales to plummet. Despite hardships and high monthly costs, the bookstore has adapted with online sales, delivery and pick-up options, and virtual events, with 70% of the pre-pandemic customer base returning. The focus is now on attracting new customers and reducing costs to survive.

Finally, data from GOBankingRates and the Bureau of Labor Statistics present a troubling picture of California’s cost of living. A large percentage of income is allocated to housing, with essentials such as food and healthcare also consuming significant portions of earnings. This reality points to an increasing economic disparity, with even seemingly high-income earners struggling to make ends meet. The existing situation calls for focused efforts to address living cost concerns and ensure affordability for all citizens.

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