Saturday, July 28, 2007


Customers: angels and devils

Yesterday I started to write a blog post about a particularly irritating customer, and stopped myself just before sending it off into the ether. I didn't want to fuss and whine. And I did actually feel much better after writing it all out - it was cathartic. But today, I could write another. And I'm not feeling so forgiving. So, today, a taste of what shopkeeping is really like: he said, "I'm not interested in used books at all, but do you sell..." And then an hour later she said, "That nice article in Down East magazine about your street was totally misleading, we came here and all the shops they mentioned were closed." I questioned her, and actually no, none of us were closed. Just the one shop next door she wanted to visit. Which is not a bookshop (the article was about bookshops on our street). She also said, "It's so awful that all the used bookshops are closing up everywhere. What a loss." Then she left without buying anything. This will not help pay the new mortgage. Oh, and that guy yesterday - no, no, I can't do it - Take the high road, Sarah, take the high road. One more, the little devil on my right shoulder is whispering... How about this fellow, a few days ago: he came upstairs and said, "Hey, this is a real bookstore!" To be fair, when he left he said, after looking at books for a while, and asking about the paintings I've got hanging up, "Thanks for a wonderful experience." He sounded like he meant it, and I loved the compliment. But - do I have to say it - he didn't buy any books either. Some days being a bookseller is one long lesson in the practice of patience.

ain't it ever.


J x
I don't work in B&M used book stores anymore, but I always hated customers who complimented our stock, then left without buying anything. In one store, when we announced we were going out of business, all the regular visitors who'd rarely bought anything said, "Oh, I'm so sorry you're closing!" Compliments don't pay the rent.

Two good possible names for bookshops: Om, and Compliments Don't Pay the Rent. Thanks, guys! Made me smile today -
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