The Mesquite covered Dead Tree Books when it first opened in April 2016. Since then, owners Kenny and Lisa Johnson temporarily shut down and relocated because of financial difficulties.
“As far as the business end of it goes, pretty much the whole time we were struggling,” Kenny Johnson said. “Struggling to make a profit. In order for any business to survive, it has to make a profit. We’re not money grubbers but you got bills to pay.”
Prior to the relocation, the bookstore closed down for a couple of weeks due to COVID-19 health concerns. Despite the physical closure, the store began getting business virtually.
“People were supportive at the time,” Kenny Johnson said. “Although the business closed down, we started getting online orders… People started ordering left and right through there.”
Once located on S. Flores street, Dead Tree Books relocated to W. Southcross, less than 20 minutes away from A&M-San Antonio.
The Johnson’s got assistance from the community for the move.
“The moving process was very very difficult,” Kenny Johnson said. “Some people who had been our customers before came and helped us out.”
The business also created a GoFundMe to help with costs.
“One of the reasons we were able to open again was because of all the support we got,” Kenny Johnson said. “We had a GoFundMe and I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to everybody… We had resisted it and finally decided we weren’t going to make it if we didn’t have outside help.”
The store had its grand opening on Nov. 6. Since moving, the business has made some changes to try to stay afloat.
“We significantly lowered our overhead,” Kenny Johnson said. “We moved from a bigger place to a smaller place. We’ve raised our prices slightly and we hope that in between the two things, we can get to a point where we can draw paychecks and actually pay our bills.”
Kenny Johnson said although the support is appreciated, Dead Tree Books needs customers to stay afloat.
“We’re a business, we can’t run purely on emotion,” Kenny Johnson said. “In order to survive, we need people to come in. Spend a dollar, buy a bar of soap… buy whatever you want.”
Book prices range from $2-$5, with gift cards available for purchase.