MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Powell's closes for eight weeks as laid off employees fire back

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Powell's closes for eight weeks as laid off employees fire back

Mar 20 2020

Powell's Books, which has five locations in Portland, Ore., and whose City of Books location is among the largest independent bookstores in the country, will remain closed for a minimum of eight weeks—a term that will put a massive strain on the company.

"These are unprecedented and grievous times," owner Emily Powell wrote in a letter sent to employees and posted to social media earlier this week. "Only a few days ago we had reason to hope that we could continue with our meaningful work of bookselling and maintain some small semblance of normalcy. Now we see the path ahead more clearly: it is dark and scary."

... She acknowledged the need for layoffs, the call to keep people on the payroll and extend health insurance for the duration, but admitted it was not an option she felt she could take. "No one can possibly know how much I wish I could make that happen," she wrote. "We are simply not that kind of business—we run on duct tape and twine on a daily basis, every day trading funds from one pocket to patch the hole in another. We have worked hard over the years to pay the best possible wages, health care, and benefits, to make contributions to our community, to support other nonprofits. Unfortunately, none of those choices leave extra money on hand when the doors close. And when the doors close, every possible cost must stop as well."

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