SARASOTA, Fla. — A longtime Sarasota bookstore is struggling like many small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbara Barone, the owner of Brant's Used Books, said customers have supported the business for 65 years. Her store is located on North Lime Avenue in Sarasota.
"This store belongs to the community. The community has kept it going for 60 some years. The community has come in and bought books. All those years, the community has enjoyed the books," said Barbara Barone.
She said she lost customers during the pandemic.
"COVID has destroyed my business like many small businesses. People don't get out as much," said Barone.
Barone started a GoFundMe page where the community is donating money. She hopes to pay her bills and also start an online inventory where people could buy books online.
"We started a GoFundMe, but the same support can be shown by coming in the store and buying books, either way, it's going to help," she said.
Her store is one of the largest and oldest used bookstores in the state of Florida. She has more than 150,000 books on display.
"I cherry-pick everything that comes in the store because I want to make sure it's interesting and fascinating and clean...something you can't get at a bigger bookstore," she said.
The original bookstore opened in 1956 and was owned by Glen and Marjorie Brant. It was located on Bee Ridge Road and Tamiami Trail.
Barone's father owned a lawnmower business next door and she would go to the bookstore to work.
"I would work there for 25 cents an hour," she said. "When Mr. Brant passed, my mom bought the store then when she passed, I took it over so I've been doing this quite a while."
Barone said the store means everything to her. She hopes the pandemic does not force her to go out of business.
"I mean this is my heart and my soul. I've done it forever. I love the store. I'm very passionate about the store, but I always say it's not really my store. This store belongs to the community," she said.
To learn more about her business and how to help, click here.