At Uncle Hugo’s Imagination stock’d corners, place
Your books, angels, and arise, arise
From death, those numberless infinities
Of stories, and to your scattered bookshelves go…
– Jeff Warner, with apologies to John Donne.
Don Blyly told readers in the August 9 edition of his “How’s Business” newsletter that he plans to open the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 – though knock on wood because “there is still time for a new disaster to strike.”
Over two years have passed since the old location was burned by vandals in 2020. Insurance claims were followed by real estate deals, then extensive renovation of the new place, installation of shelves, and stocking the inventory. All the work has paid off as the new location at 2716 E. 31st St. in Minneapolis is on the verge of being ready for customers.
And if anyone is so unsympathetic as to ask “So, why is it taking so long?”, Blyly has a list of answers to the question.
The number one problem has been the computer system. It took 3 weeks longer than expected for the hardware to arrive, after FedEx lost the original set of computer monitors. After the hardware finally showed up, it took 5 weeks longer than expected to get ethernet cables run to connect the computers to the internet. That’s a total of 8 weeks unexpected delays, but that was just the beginning of the problems.
There have been other mundane delays, like contracting for trash and recycling pick-up.
…The salesperson claimed that it was impossible to have the waste service on the same contract as the recycling, so promised to e-mail two contracts for me to sign. I looked at the contracts and immediately saw two problems: 1) the recycling contract was for only 1/3 the capacity of the old contract, and 2) both contracts stated that the customer will put a maximum of 0 pounds per yard into the containers. I pointed out these problems and the salesperson kept sending me the bad contracts for signatures about 8 more times before sending revised contracts.
…The trash dumpster was finally delivered on July 5. More than a month later than the promised date, the recycling containers still have not been delivered, and I have words with Waste Management about that 2 or 3 times per week. And the front of the store is filled with recycling material.
Moving the phone and internet service to the new location has also been an issue.
Comcast/Xfinity was very helpful after the fire. They allowed me to cancel my home contract and move the business account to my home and allowed me (for a fee, of course) to keep the two business phone numbers, forwarding them to my home landline. After I had bought the new commercial building, they set up a new business account for the new address, but kept the old business phone lines connected to my home landline for a transition period. Around July 6th a Comcast employee called to make sure we were in agreement on the transition to the new location. We agreed that on July 16 the two phone lines would be transferred to the new store, but the internet connection to my home would remain in place. Instead, on July 16 they cut the internet connection to my home, but left the two business lines connected to my home landline. I finally got them to move the business phone lines to the business around July 20, but they refused to return internet service to my home, claiming that Comcast Business does not allow any business to have modems in more than one location, even if there is a different account for each location. This forced me to move the mail order operation to the store a couple of weeks sooner than planned. I still have not been able to get them to return internet service to my home.
Blyly also reported his progress on setting up displays of his inventory.
As I write this, we’ve received about 1/3 of the new books that I’ve ordered. When boxes of books come in, they have to be checked against the invoice and then divided into different sections. The mysteries are separated from the science fiction/fantasy. Within those sections, they are then divided into the “before the fire” titles, the “after the fire” titles, and the “new releases”. The sides of the bookshelves away from the front windows have the “before the fire” titles and the sides towards the front windows have a couple of sections of “new releases” and many sections of “after the fire” titles. This should make it much easier for people to see what they’ve missed since the fire. Around January we will mix the “before the fire” and “after the fire” titles into a single alphabetical section.
Here are his scheduled hours for the planned opening.
I hope to be able to open the Uncles for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 (but there is still time for a new disaster to strike). For the first week or two we will be open from 11 am to 4 pm Monday – Saturday and from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays, after which we will move to our regular hours. During the first couple of weeks we expect to be very busy receiving and filing the rest of the new books that are on order, dealing with donated used books, and learning the computer system. So, we will not be buying used books for the first 2 weeks. We will continue to accept donated books during this period (“Just put the boxes over there and we’ll get around to dealing with them one of these days.”) but won’t have time to deal with buying used books. I don’t expect the new sign or new awnings to be ready by then, so the signage will still say “Glass Endeavors” until the sign painter and the awning people get their work done.