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Otto Bookstore owner feels ‘fortunate’ to have community support

Otto Bookstore, 107 W. Fourth St., is continuing sales through online platforms while maintaining support for staff during the COVID-19 outbreak according to Kathryn Nassberg, owner, and Andrew Brum, manager.

Local Otto supporters can even watch Nassberg appear on CBS THIS MORNING today at 7 a.m. talking about the store.

The business is operating by allowing one employee into the store at a time while having other employees work remotely by doing catalogs and inventory.

“We are doing our best to make sure everyone is still employed,” Nassberg said.

She added that the business even applied for payroll protection during this time.

“We care very deeply about everyone’s well-being and safety,” she said.

Book lovers can still get their books via email, Facebook and website ordering, with the options of free, contactless delivery to the Williamsport and close surrounding areas such as South Williamsport and Loyalsock Township by Brum.

He said that he will either text or call the person when their book is on their porch or in their mailbox.

This, however, didn’t come without challenge.

“Being a bookstore, the advantage is there is staff to help you and you can physically look through the book itself,” Brum said. “There normally is no shipping time. During this time, you can’t do that.”

Community members also typically look forward to First Friday events held downtown, usually starting in May, where Otto normally has author signings — unfortunately those have been canceled for the first two months at this time.

The beloved bookstore also brought together other downtown organizations for partnerships and brought the local community closer together.

Otto teamed up with The Graphic Hive to continue a second run of Otto Bookstore designed t-shirts and tote bags as well as The Williamsport Home to get reading materials to residents at this time.

“I feel fortunate that we can keep operating even at half our revenue,” Nassberg added. “We have been very heartened that people have made a point to support us. It’s not just ‘we want to buy a book’ but ‘hey, we support you.’ “

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