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To weather COVID losses, Islander Bookshop moves catalog online

The Islander Bookshop on Mill Bay Road. Photo courtesy bookshop owner Melissa Haffeman.
The Islander Bookshop on Mill Bay Road. Photo courtesy bookshop owner Melissa Haffeman.

Businesses all over Kodiak have been hard at work, innovating a new vision of local commerce in a post-covid world.

A stellar example of this trend is the local Islander Bookshop, which has shifted the entirety of its catalog online.

“The process has taken much longer than I thought it would take,” Melissa Haffeman, owner of the Islander Bookshop said.

“Part of the issue is that I use one point of sale system in the shop, and the website for that point of sale system isn’t very user friendly. So I decided to go with Shopify, which has a lot more features that make it easier for customers. Learning how to connect the two has been interesting and challenging. But I think we’re finally there. And in trying to upload or update our inventory with 1000s of books in different titles.”

Haffeman has been hard at work putting the shop online. She says that while its not a complete replacement for regular in-person sales in a holiday season, its mitigated some of the pandemic’s impact.

“Kodiak has come out in support of small business. And so we’re operating on limited capacity or appointment only,” Haffeman said. “The town really does support small business as far as what I’ve seen, and I know you’re going to take a hit by decreasing traffic with appointment only shopping. But the orders are starting to come in online. It’s nowhere near what it would be without a pandemic, but we’re making it work.”

Haffeman also takes a small pleasure from the connectedness online shopping brings.

“But what I really like is that there’s this chat feature, I installed this little chat box on the website, and folks are sending me messages on there and I can respond to them,” Haffeman said. “And so far all the conversations are so sweet. It really helps as we’re all just kind of living in our homes in our tiny bubbles. It’s nice to talk with different people. One Lady shared today that her son’s really into dinosaurs and he’s looking for pop up books, so I’ll research some of those and get back to her”

Haffeman says that the change will likely be a permanent fixture. Those interested in learning more about the Islander’s change, or merely to pick up a good book for the holiday season, can do so at