Yes, we know, it's only Monday. But this is important and we didn't want to wait.
As a comic book store, we are naturally optimistic types. If we weren't, we'd be in a different line of business - people have been predicting the death of comics for longer than we've been reading them, and yet here we still are, still selling them.
No, this image isn't in any way relevant, but it has a doctor on it and we don't want to use scary images of viruses and people in hazmat suits...
So. We hope, we really, really hope that our current tactic of "going down the Winchester, having a nice cold pint and waiting for all this to blow over"
is all that will be required. But while we're optimistic, we're not stupid. Harrogate and District Hospital has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, and since not all cases of the infection are severe enough that the infected person realises they have the virus, we have to assume that the virus is out there. So we have put plans in place to deal with worst case scenarios with the following equally important objectives in mind:
Ensuring that Destination Venus, as a business, survives.
We don't cause anyone (including ourselves) to contract the virus or encourage the spread of the infection.
Helping our customers to get through the crisis as much as we can.
To this end, our primary objective is to keep the shop open. So long as the Everyman is open*, and Regie is disease free, Desties will also be open. Wash your hands and consider us an escape, where we can talk about comics, and movies and the only Doctors we have to think about are Who, Crusher, Strange and Fate.
(No offence, by the way, but we're not touching any of you any more - hand shakes are verbotten - greetings and farewells are limited to waving, the Vulcan greeting and the Wakanda Salute until further notice...)
However, all of that jollity is not a lot of use to customers who have to self-isolate, either because they fear they may be infected, or because they can't take the risk of getting infected. Stuck in the house all day, you're going to need some entertainment. We can help with that.
We already offer free delivery within Harrogate and Kanaresborough**. So long as Regie isn't self-isolating himself, this will continue to be available to all customers, whether they have a standing order or not. Tell us what you want, pay the invoice online, we deliver.
(If you're trying to avoid infection, the best information we've found so far suggests that COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for about 24 hours, so you may want to bear that in mind and leave the package alone for a day. As we understand it, the virus can survive on plastics for longer, so comics shipped to self isolating customers will be sent without bags and boards unless you request otherwise.)
In addition to this, any online orders over £25.00 placed from the day this blog post drops, 16th March 2020, up until 30th April 2020***, from customers outside Harrogate and Knaresborough** will be shipped via Royal Mail free of charge. (This obviously assumes that Royal Mail deliveries continue and Post Offices remain open, but that's beyond our control.) Because of the way the website's store works, it would make it easier for us to do this if you didn't use the webshop, but sent us a list of what you would like via email - use the "contact us" section of the homepage or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don't have a standing order, or just want more reading material, we will also offer a recommendations service for Graphic Novels, Trade Paperback Collections, New Comics and Back Issues. Tell us what you like, we'll come up with recommendations - a "bespoke menu" of titles for you to pick and choose from.
We're looking for other things that we can do for our customers, so if anyone can think of any other ways we can help, please let us know - we're here to do what we can.
But we are also going to need your help. Our bills are not going to stop during this thing. Footfall and sales are already down - we didn't take enough on Saturday to cover the cost of being open - and that's already having a negative impact. The situation is stark. If we don't sell enough comics each week to pay for next week's delivery we immediately have a serious cash flow problem. If that happens for a few weeks in a row, we're out of business.
So. If you like having a comic shop in Harrogate, please, please, keep shopping. Panic buying hand sanitiser, toilet paper, pasta and canned goods is a bad thing - but there are no negative effects AT ALL related to panic buying comics, so have at it!
If you're a regular and we have a comics held for you, please keep coming in and collecting them (or ordering for delivery) regularly. If you're very concerned to avoid contamination and just don't want stuff from outside coming in to your house right now, we understand, but please consider paying in advance, or maybe buying some gift vouchers.
We're all in this together. We really do need you. We're certainly not the only indie business facing uncertain times as a result of this thing, and we can only say a massive "THANK YOU" to all of you who have continued to support us and other indie businesses in our wonderful, mad little town. All we can say is let's be the community we believe we are. Let's help each other as much as we can. As we always say:
"Be kind to yourself, be kind to everybody else."
Above all else, stay safe and be well. (And wash your hands. And stop touching your face!)
*We have a contingency plan for this too, but we'll keep that under wraps for now because we're very much hoping we won't need it.
**For the purposes of this policy, we are currently defining "Harrogate and Knaresborough" as "addresses beginning with the postcodes HG1, HG2 and HG5". If you live close to the shop but have a different postcode prefix, get in touch and we'll see what we can do, but we can't guarantee anything.
***This policy will be reviewed on 30th April 2020 and may be extended if circumstances require.