TIPP CITY, Ohio (WDTN) – While many local businesses have struggled through the COVID-19 outbreak, Browse Awhile Books in Tipp City has seen an uptick in sales compared to the same period last year. They can thank their large online presence and a captured audience, which is staying indoors and looking for a good read.

With small businesses shut down across the globe from the COVID-19 outbreak, many are in danger of closing permanently. While restaurants can still deliver food or provide carry out services, many places like bowling alleys, bars and music stores are completely shuttered until Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine decides to re-open the state economy. Funding is available for small businesses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, applying for loans or aid has been a difficult process.

Browse Awhile Books has weathered the outbreak better thanks to the 50,000 books they have for sale online through ABEBooks.com, biblio.com and Amazon. Their curbside service makes it more convenient to pick up desired books than waiting on an Amazon shipment.

“A lot of people were shopping online before the outbreak anyway,” Manager Amanda Carl said. “Having a massive inventory helps as does being open since 1980. That means we’ve been collecting for a while.”

Carl said she was surprised customers are preferring to buy books away from their Amazon page, which surprised her. She said ordering a book on the store’s website, you can select curbside pickup instead of delivery and usually pick up an order up that day or within a few hours.

“Our website is easy to navigate,” Carl said. “Right now our online sales have tripled over last year, so that’s put our overall sales up a bit from last year. It’s not a lot, but it’s a lot to notice.”

Carl said the store didn’t see a surge in online orders until the second week of the outbreak. She said she hasn’t seen a change in customers’ preferences – history is still popular, along with science fiction and Westerns. She said the only change is more interest in books about pandemics.

“I wouldn’t say we focus on the internet but we focus on customer relations,” Carl said. “Knowing what our customers want plays a big part. If you have what people want they will buy that, and customer service plays a big key. Right now people want an escape from reality.”

For more information on CARES ACT small business loans, go to the Small Business Administration’s website.