Take Steps Now to Prevent Utility Shut-off

In August, when the summer sun is scorching, it seems strange to be thinking about heating your home. But the reality is that actions not taken in the summer can negatively impact you as the weather turns cold. When people struggle with utility bills, the thought is sometimes to let it slide. After all, you don’t need heat in the summer. This can end up being a very costly mistake.

All states have guidelines for utility companies, preventing them from turning off power in cold weather. That is good news and ensures that a family’s power can’t be shut off in sub-zero temps and create a life-threatening situation. To compensate for these laws the utility companies have been known to aggressively use their shut-off capabilities in the months preceding cold weather. If your utilities are shut-off, it will cost you, as fines and reconnect fees are added to the amount of the overdue bill.  If you are behind on your utility bills, you could be putting yourself in jeopardy of a utility shut-off.

Don’t ignore overdue utility bills. If you are having trouble with your bills, you have options.

  • Contact your provider to:
    • Try to work out a plan.
    • See if you can get on a monthly plan that averages your annual cost into uniform monthly payments.
    • Ask about utility conservation assistance programs to help you reduce your usage.
  • LIHEAP  has funds available for those households that meet their guideline.
  • Contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project at 866-674-6327 or energy@ncat.org.
  • Your state may have an assistance program

If you qualify for one of these programs, you’ll be able to get future bills reduced—and may be able to spread out payments on past bills.

If you have tried these resources and still are threatened with a utility shut-off, contact Binc and we may be able to help get you back on track.

Don’t Let a Disaster Find You Unprepared

It’s July and that means summer and, unfortunately, the middle of hurricane season.

Hurricanes are now regularly joined by wildfires, floods, tornados and ice storms to wreak havoc on booksellers across the country. Booksellers have been assisted by Binc after their homes were flooded by a hurricane, stores and homes were destroyed in a raging wildfire, having pipes burst or roofs collapse under ice and snow, and all manner of natural disaster. Thanks to our generous donors, both corporate and individual, we have never had to turn anyone away. Binc has been and continues to be a place to turn when booksellers begin to put their lives back together after enduring a natural disaster.

While there are many different types of natural disaster, the preparation is the same. With the help of industry partners and a number of bookstore owners, we have created some tools to help you, your employees, and your store meet whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Last year in conjunction with LIBRIS we rolled out a Disaster Preparedness Checklist. Hopefully, there is already a copy in your bookstore; if not, download your copy LIBRIS_DisasterPreparedness.

Earlier this year we received an email from Sara Hines from Eight Cousin’s Bookstore in Falmouth, MA.

 Because of our situation last year (closed for three months due to massive water damage) and seeing all of the other disasters that bookstores across the country have experienced and because a restaurant across the street from us recently had to call an ambulance for a customer who overdosed during dinner, I am working on increasing our emergency preparedness staff training.

Sara realized that her store needed instructions that were specific to their store. She was looking for a way to train staff on how to manage a situation until the people who know what they are doing arrive. She knew that overwhelming her staff with too much information would be counter-productive but wanted them to be prepared for any emergency. She was compiling an emergency training binder and asked if Binc would take a look at what she had and make suggestions.

What Sara created was an amazingly detailed step-by-step plan to prepare her employees ready for any emergency. We were able to help her organize the information and we are happy to share what we call Emergency 1-2-3. We encourage you all to personalize the pages with important phone numbers, meeting places, contacts and any special processes you use. Then be sure to share the information with your staff. After going over the information with her staff, Sara has it all filed in the store’s Emergency Binder. Every employee of Eight Cousins knows the contents and where to find the binder.

Don’t let your store get caught unprepared, create your personal Emergency Binder today.

Bed bugs. Just the thought is enough to make anyone squirm.

Recently, a bookseller spent months trying to rid their apartment of bedbugs, only to have them return – over and over again. Their whole building was infested. All appeals to the landlord were dismissed. The bookseller’s only recourse was to move out, but they lacked the funds to do so. With their security deposit tied up as they tried to break their lease, and having to continue to pay rent and live in the infested apartment, they didn’t see a way out.

But their bookstore had a Binc poster prominently displayed and the bookseller made the call for help. Because of supporters like you, Binc was able to pay the move-in expenses for a new apartment, providing this bookseller with a safe and healthy home.


Bed bugs know no social or economic bounds and they can set up residence in any home. The sources are numerous – they can be picked up while traveling, brought in aboard furniture, even travel from a neighboring apartment. However they arrive, and wherever they land, the process of ridding your home of them can be grueling.

Residents can take some steps to control an infestation.

  • Find where they are hiding, not just in mattresses and overstuffed furniture. Look along baseboards, hard furnishings, and any dark hidden area.
  • Vacuum carefully and remove the vacuum bag and contents immediately.
  • Steam clean furniture and other surfaces.
  • Put mattress and box springs into a bed bug proof cover.
  • Wash all cloth items in hot water or put in the drier for at least 20 minutes.
  • Notify your landlord immediately.

Most landlords, not wanting bed bugs to spread, will help eradicate the pests. They should work with you to help correct the problem and prevent the spread. They should arrange for professional pest control if necessary. With quick action, the infestation can be minimized.

Nationally the incidents of bed bug infestations are rising (no one seems to know exactly why) and as a result, Binc has received an increased number of requests for assistance from booksellers battling them. The help Binc has provided ranged from helping with eradication costs to assistance for a bookseller to move out of a chronically infested building.

More information on how to prevent bed bug encounters and more about the treatment can be found through the EPA, Texas A&M University, and National Apartment Association.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself living with bed bugs, give Binc a call.

https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs

https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3013/

https://www.naahq.org/sites/default/files/documents/Bed-Bugs-Resident-Brochure-2013.pdf

What We Learned at Ci7

Pittsburgh, PA June 2019

I love going to industry tradeshows and conferences and Ci7 in Pittsburgh was one of the best (and most intense) I’ve been to yet. On my first day in Pittsburgh, I did the full-day bookstore tour where a busload of booksellers and other industry folks visited five of Pittsburgh’s growing and beloved indies: Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Spark Books, City of Asylum, White Whale Bookstore, and Classic Lines Bookstore. It was awesome to see these bookstores in person (the majority of which are less than four years old) and the growing literary community in Pittsburgh. There was another tour which was also offered where people visited indie bookshops in the north side of the city and surrounding suburbs. Opening a bookstore is often both a risk and the realization of a lifelong dream, and it is our core mission at Binc to support these intrepid entrepreneurs and their hard-working employees.

One of the most important Binc-related realizations that I took home from this gathering of booksellers was that even though Binc has been serving US booksellers’ emergency financial needs since 2011, there are still misconceptions about what Binc does, who qualifies for assistance, and what kinds of events Binc can help with.

Booksellers do not have to donate or “belong” to Binc to qualify for assistance—ever.

The first thing I often have to clear up when getting into a discussion with a bookseller who is mostly unfamiliar with Binc (oh you’re from that bookstore charity), is that Binc is not a membership organization. Booksellers do not have to donate or “belong” to Binc to qualify for assistance—ever. Binc is a nonprofit foundation funded and supported by a community of caring and generous donors from across the industry (i.e. authors, publishers, frontline booksellers, bookstore owners, the ABA, and regional associations like NCIBA and NEIBA) and we serve all people working full-time or part-time in a brick and mortar bookstore for over 90-days. We serve frontline booksellers, comic book retailers, owners, managers, buyers, events coordinators, and shift leaders. If you work in a bookstore—Binc is your foundation. There are no membership fees or costs, and there never will be.

Another misconception I often encounter at trade shows or when I’m visiting bookstores is that Binc assistance applies only to the bookstore itself or the bookstore owner. This is also not the case. If a tree falls on your house, and you work in a bookstore year-round, it’s possible that Binc can help. Due to donations from across the industry, Binc is able to help with a vast range of emergency events that effect booksellers’ lives outside of the bookstore where they work. Binc has helped pay for addiction treatment, vital medications, preventing eviction, repairs after a tornado partially destroyed a home, funeral expenses for a loved one, relocation for domestic violence survivors, dealing with bed bugs, and 100s more qualifying events. If you’re not sure if your situation qualifies, and you’re struggling financially after something unexpected happened in your life, call us. We’ll talk you through our simple application process and do our best to get you some relief.

If you’re not sure if your situation qualifies, call us.

Sometimes when I tell people about Binc they ask, “So what’s the catch? Do I have to pay the money back? Do you tell everyone I needed assistance?” The honest answer is that there is no catch. You never have to pay the money back (the assistance is in the form of grants, not loans), and our financial assistance programs are 100% confidential and judgment-free. We take your situation as it is and do our best to work with you and help you find a way out of it so you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

At Binc we believe in the power of the indie bookstore in a community and the value of the people who work in that bookstore who every day make the store what it is. Binc is here for the children’s book buyer who is selecting the books on the shelves to reflect and at times challenge their community, the events coordinator who is always staying late and working weekends and moving that shelf out of the way for the 100th time, the aspiring writer and frontline bookseller who is trying to make her bookseller’s hourly wage work in New York City, for the new bookstore owner with a young family who has big dreams about building something great and valued for their community. Binc is here for each of them in times of great need. I always tell people, I wish that nobody ever needed Binc, but I also know that’s not the world we live in. At least it’s good to know if you need a little help during an emergency, that Binc will be here to help you find your way through a crisis. Then afterward, you can keep slinging those books and sharing your favorite stories with your customers and doing the incredible work of selling books and connecting readers with the stories they so urgently need to hear.

Kate Weiss was a frontline bookseller and book buyer for over ten years and is currently the communication and marketing coordinator at the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Bookseller Stories // vol. 4 // July ’19

The helpline continues to ring and emails are coming in every day from booksellers who are on the edge of crisis. Disaster season is here and with it comes earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. But not every natural disaster is a weather-related event. Some can be as tiny as a bed bug. The good news is, because of you, Binc is here and ready to help.


Bed bugs. Just the thought is enough to make you itch and squirm. They can be picked up while traveling, brought in on-board used furniture, come hidden in purchased goods, or even travel from a neighboring apartment. These critters know no social or economic bounds and can set up residence in any home. However they arrive, the process of ridding them from your home is grueling and expensive.

A bookseller recently experienced such an infestation. They got rid of all of their upholstered furniture, replaced their mattress and treated all of their belongings, to no avail. The bookseller spent months trying to rid their apartment of the bugs, only to have them return – over and over again. It turned out that the whole building was infested. All appeals to the landlord were dismissed. The landlord refused to offer any assistance, stating that it was a “housekeeping problem” not a “building maintenance” issue.

The bookseller’s only recourse was to move out, but they lacked the funds to do so. With their security deposit tied up as they tried to break their lease, and having to continue to pay rent and live in the infested apartment, they didn’t see a way out.

But their bookstore had a Binc poster prominently displayed and the bookseller made the call for help. Because of you, Binc was able to help the bookseller pay the move-in expenses for a new apartment where they can get back to a bedbug-free life.