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Grassroots Books staff harassed over mask policy

By Lucia Starbuck

Grassroots Books, an independent bookstore located in Reno, has adapted to selling books in spaced out tables in their parking lot in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

There are also rules for those who want to browse the books during the outside sale. Everyone over the age of 2 must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose, and if the parking lot is full, come back another time.

Customers around the U.S. have resorted to violence and screaming at employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic, over being required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

Grassroots Books took to Facebook after several of their employees were harassed over the bookstore’s mask policy on May 21.

“IT IS NOT OK TO SHOW UP WITHOUT A MASK and then yell “F**** YOU, F*** GRASSROOTS” to our young woman organizing the books, after she asks you get a mask. A man did this in the last half hour,” Grassroots Books wrote in the comments of their Facebook post on May 21. “She was still shaky 25 minutes later, when the owner phoned her, and doesn’t want to organize outside anymore today.”

Grassroots Books’ comment went on to state another staff member was called names and the patron didn’t respect the six-feet rule.

“IT IS ALSO NOT OK TO SHOW UP WITHOUT A MASK and then call our team member “a little boy” and “a Nazi.” And advancing, advancing, advancing while our team member said “BACK OFF, BACK OFF.” Our team member couldn’t care less about your name-calling! But getting within 2 feet is absolutely not ok,” Grassroots Books’ comment said.

Grassroots Books also posted some of their negative reviews regarding their mask policy.

“We want you to know we heard you,” Grassroots Books wrote before listing three complaints the bookstore has received.

  • Gary said, “I will not attend only because of the ludicrous mask restriction… Walmart has thousands of attendees daily with no mask restriction… Obviously I will never be a patron of your business.”
  • Kat said, “It’s safe even if it’s inside. Stop drinking the KoolAid.”
  • Michelle said, “Wearing masks outside is absurd.”

Grassroots Books responded to the comments saying, “We have found that government has said all different things. We like the idea that no one is coughing on the books. We aim for zero people infected here.”

This Is Reno reached out to Grassroots Books for comment but was told they are not ready to discuss the matter.

The outside sale is currently open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and patrons can buy a book for 99 cents. The bookstore isn’t accepting cash, and asking customers to pay afterwards, online or call 775-828-2665.

Patrons can also shop inside, but must make an appointment to do so. Only one person is allowed inside at a time according to Grassroots Books’ Facebook post. Customers can also partake in contactless curbside pickup.

This Is Reno’s COVID-19 news coverage

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