Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s City of Books K. MARIE


Update, March 17:

According to an internal email sent to Powell's staff, Powell's Books does "not expect to resume normal business operations for several months."

The vast majority of Powell's staff were temporarily laid off on Sunday, March 15, when the company announced store closures. But in the Monday evening email, management informed staff that some of those lay offs will become permanent.

"Selection for involuntary layoff will proceed by job title and seniority," the email explains. Management expects to inform staff of all permanent layoffs by the end of day on Thursday, March 19.

"We deeply regret having to take these steps," the email reads. "This is truly an unprecedented situation."


Original Story, March 15:

Iconic Portland booksellers Powell's Books has shuttered its five stores to stave off the spread of COVID-19. In a social media post, Powell's writes that, "at this time we feel we cannot honor the social distancing guidelines presented by the CDC."

The stores will remain closed until March 31, when the company will consider whether they should remained closed. Powell's reminds readers that they can continue purchasing books and other merchandise at their online store.

It's unclear how these closures will impact Powell's employees. Powell's management has yet to respond to the Mercury's request for comment. (We'll update this post when they do).

Just over 400 of Powell's employees are members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 5.

In a statement emailed to the Mercury, ILWU Local 5 spokesperson Myka Dubay writes: "ILWU Local 5 stands behind Powell's decision to keep workers and the public safe. We are actively working with the Company to minimize impacts on workers suffering loss of pay."

Want to save The Portland Mercury? Contribute here.

Powell's is the latest in a number of local businesses that have decided to close until the threat of coronavirus transmission has diminished.

Mississippi Studios, Revolution Hall, and Polaris Hall have canceled all shows until April 8. Hollywood Theatre, Movie Madness,and the Academy Theatre have closed until April 8—while Laurelhurst Theatre has indefinitely closed. The Oregonian's compiled a list of restaurants and bars that have temporarily closed during this time.