Many in Santa Fe see the Travel Bug as a local institution.
We offer good coffee, a huge selection of guidebooks and custom map printing. We have hosted more than 900 of our biweekly Saturday afternoon slideshows, and they were always well attended.
After shutting down in mid-March, we had no idea whether the closure was going to be permanent. But when we reopened experimentally in late May, customers did return, albeit cautiously, for espressos, puff pastries, books and maps.
Sentiments in Santa Fe mirrored the nation’s. People were travel-starved and itching to move around. Most came in wanting state atlases or local hiking books and maps, and accordingly we showed a sharp uptick in related sales.
But our staple, international travel, remains on hiatus. With the weather turning cooler and fewer people heading outdoors, we have seen a steady drop in customers.
We have persevered largely thanks to loyal customers who continue finding reasons to return, but we’ve had to adapt.
The language courses we offer in French, Spanish and Italian are one example. Classes used to meet in the store, but since COVID-19, they take place online. Students have come to like this format, and a few even attend from out of state.
The courses have remained surprisingly popular, especially Italian and Spanish. Students tell us the classes keep them active, engaged and give them hope for when travel returns.
We also have shifted temporarily away from travel guides and toward new, general-interest books — mostly nonfiction but some fiction, too.
Our coffee business since May has been entirely to-go. Where cafe seating once occupied much of Travel Bug’s interior space, rows of thigh-high tables now offer easy browsing of a well-curated selection of biography, history, social science, etc.
The collection reflects founder Greg Ohlsen’s long experience in the book world. Ohlsen started Garcia Street Books in 1991 before opening Travel Bug in 1997.
Though patrons insist “coffee is absolutely essential,” Travel Bug complied with the governor’s recent mandate and shut its doors once again, just weeks before Christmas. The closure was financially tough for us, as for others, but we think being closed helped to control the most recent outbreak.
An alternative to in-person shopping is ordering books from our Bookshop site, bookshop.org/shop/travelbug.
Booskhop.org is an online book-ordering platform designed specifically to benefit local bookstores. Orders placed through Bookshop on our site directly benefit Travel Bug. Order fulfillment is handled by distribution powerhouse Ingram, and books can be sent to whichever address our customers choose.
Doors have opened again since the latest lockdown, but we do offer curbside pickup. We have a surprising number of nontravel items as well, such as Serengeti sunglasses, Bertucci watches and Tilley hats.
Come in for coffee and sweets. We’ll be glad to see you!