Have you seen our window at Woods in the Books? I think it’s a lovely window. It lets in the sun when the sky is clear, and it frames the pattering rain so prettily with its green painted grille. Last Christmas, in echo of our regular art on the Books Ahoy! window, our art director painted the window at Woods in the Books as well. You can still see the artwork dancing on the windowpane.
But when construction came to call, our window had to put its face away behind bamboo scaffolding swathed in gauzy green drapes. (To read about our first brush with construction this year, click here.)
The construction efforts had turned to the facade of our shophouse — which we were now told needed to be repainted. Our shop wasn’t touched by the painting, so our artwork remains on the walls outside, but it did mean that all of it was hidden behind the scaffolding so that we couldn’t even tell passers-by that they could still take photos of the outside of our shop even though we can’t allow photos inside the shop itself.
One of our elves remarked that the outside of our shop looked remarkably like Hong Kong.
As all this was going on, the construction people came into the shop every so often, armed with tapes and other serious measuring equipment, so they could look at the walls and the doors and the whole length of the shop from between the cashier area all the way to the very end of the Chinese books section, all the way to the door that bars entry.
In order to finish what they were building upstairs, they needed to run a pipe through the length of our shop all the way to the very end, past even the staff only door. It would take a lot of hacking and dust and noise to get everything sorted, and it meant that we would need to pack away a whole lot of books to make sure that we didn’t have any more damaged stock.
Of course it would be impossible for us to run business of any kind while this was going on, so that was why we had to close the shop for an entire week in June.
We took down the toys on the shelves, took down the mobiles from where they hung. We took away the the original paintings that form the base of our signature Animal Postcards series and put shelves and shelves (and shelves and shelves) of books away into boxes to stay for a whole week.
Here’s a look at what the shop looked like during the week we had to close up.
Here’s our floor, carpeted in protective cardboard, our wrapped up shelves, and the empty non-fiction book island.
To support the roof, these had to be set up in the Chinese section, and you can see some of our many many cartons of books lining the sides of the room.
The pipe is up near the ceiling today, so you don’t see much of it where it runs above the Animal Postcard row. The casing around the pipe has been soundproofed to the best of everyone’s ability, so you won’t hear it when someone flushes. But this is the amount of shifting and work that went into that nearly invisible piece of architecture.
When we finally got the shop back to ourselves, we set back to frantically unpacking the shop.
We’d hoped to have the shop back before the weekend, but while that didn’t work out we were determined to have the shop ready and well-stocked for our Sunday crowd.
We put the toys back up in their old positions. We gave the mobiles a good scrub and hung them back up. We strung the postcard paintings on fresh twine and hung them back on their wall. And all the books went back up on their many many shelves (and shelves and shelves), ready and in good time for Sunday.
And just in time, the scaffolding was taken away (before we remembered to snap a photo of it, alas), so that our window and our walls could greet our customers in the sunlight again.