Bookworms, your time has come, because a downtown Frederick bookstore is making your dreams of nonstop reading come true.
Marlene England, who co-owns Curious Iguana in downtown Frederick with her husband Tom, has been closed to in-store business since Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order on March 16. But that hasn’t stopped England and her staff from finding creative ways to continue not only selling books but giving back to the community.
Originally, they had offered curb-side pickup and deliveries until Hogan’s announcement March 23 that all nonessential stores were to close.
Although Curious Iguana is closed to browsing, England said they are still taking online orders. Customers can also purchase gift cards online. The store sells books for all ages and in a variety of genres.
Curious Iguana staff members have used social media tools to get the word out about what’s in stock. One way has been through videos on Facebook, giving customers a virtual tour of the stock.
“It was something our marketing and events manager came up with as a way to showcase products because we don’t have all of our books on our website,” England said.
The Englands have also taken it one step forward by starting a Share the Love campaign, which allows customers to buy books for local nonprofits.
“We’re just so fortunate to work with so many nonprofits in the community, and I knew our customers would want to continue to support us,” she said.
Customers can donate to Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (COIPP), the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick, I Believe in Me, On Our Own, and the new Day Center partnership between the Salvation Army and Frederick Rescue Mission.
Through the website, customers can select a book and an organization, England explained. As of March 18, 60 books had already been donated to local organizations. The deadline to place orders is March 31.
“It warms my heart. It makes me so happy,” she said of the book donations. “It’s what Frederick is all about.”
At the England’s other store, Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts, online orders will continue. Dancing Bear sells toys and games for all ages.
“We’re doing the best we can to think creatively and outside of the box, in a very challenging situation,” she said.
At Dancing Bear, England said customers can purchase an egiftcard online. To give them an idea of what’s being offered, the staff also use Facebook for videos and live streaming events.
“They can look at the video from a walk-around tour of the store and make some decisions that way,” she said.
The most popular toys have been craft kits, she said.
Dancing Bear has also been broadcasting Facebook Live videos from the toy store every day at 1 p.m.
“That’s been really popular,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of kids and families tuning in for those and we’re doing different activities.”
They have had story time and plan to do one on origami, science experiments, puppets, singalongs and more.
“We’re hoping that we’re a good resource to help parents and families who are home with kids out of school and looking for some creative things to do,” she said.
England said she isn’t surprised that customers are not only continuing to buy books but also reaching out to ask if they’re OK.
“We certainly didn’t want this crisis to happen, but I feel very fortunate to have our businesses located in such a community like this, where people do care and there’s so much concern for independent local businesses,” she said.
Follow Crystal Schelle on Twitter: @crystalschelle.