Reading and Ranting: The First Week

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Book Store Chronicles Part 2

So the first week has passed and I’m not firmly into week two. So how did it go?

Good…great…decent…I have no freaking idea. How does one even judge if a week was a good week? I had customers, they bought things, I made money = great?

At any rate, the store hasn’t burnt down and I haven’t fallen into debt so that pretty much equals a good week for me. Most of my customers have been pleasant, but I’m slowly learning things about ‘normal’ people who read. So here is what I’ve taken away from the first one.

Half of the customers have no idea you exist. (Outside of you ringing them up or finding a book).

I have customers who take the time to learn my name and welcome me to the store, or just chat with me. It’s nice and it shows me they pay attention. The others however, don’t even notice that I’m not the previous owner until I tell them otherwise. I just want to state that I look/sound nothing like the previous owner…It’s not a big deal, it’s just weird to realize that people literally look through you.

Just because they read books doesn’t mean they read everything else…like signs or the giant store name on the window. 

I have a ton of people come in and are met with the surprise that they store has been re-organized and that there is a new person sitting behind the counter. They some how miss the window stickers and the new signage on the door. I’m starting to question if paying $125 for a window sign was even worth it.

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Some people are going to be jerks because that’s who they are and there is nothing you can do to please them (except do everything they tell you to and even then they’ll still disapprove). 

So my last customers of Day 1 were an elderly couple…probably in their late 60’s early 70’s. The woman was fairly quiet and overall a pretty base-line type of customer. She was neither unhappy nor happy, and she was content to just  find some books to read and be on her way. Her husband however….not so much. He was on the low end of customers. Nothing can please this man. though admittedly I understand his disgruntled-ness. I call him Pessimistic Paul.

I can’t accept the previous store’s store credit because of two reasons:

1) The store credit was issued through a different business and I have signed papers and changed the name to prevent any blurring of lines between the previous store and mine. It’s a legal thing. While the store space and inventory might seem the same, it is infact a separate entity and must be treated as such.

2) I won’t make any money if I’m taking credit that I didn’t issue. In fact I’d probably lose money. The books they traded in could have been sold before I bought the store, or they might never sell…the point is I didn’t make that trade so I don’t benefit from it in any way.

So yeah, I get it. You go to the store and find out that your store credit is no longer valid, and you had quite a bit, so you’re understandably upset. He has enough “know-how” to ask me if I still take the previous store’s credit. This tells me two things, he knows there is a possibility that I don’t and that this is a different business. We’re on the same page, we just have differing opinions. I have social anxiety so my defense mechanism is to be as nice and compliant as possible. After being glared and complained at for the duration of his visit, and then seeing him basically tell his wife she was done looking, I was glad to hear him say he won’t be back.

I know I’m new to this and I fully believe it treating people with the utmost respect, even if they’re being jerks, because the only way my store can survive is due to those people. However I refuse to be bullied into losing money just because you don’t think it’s fair. I have to make a living, and you’re not the snowflake you think you are. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true and it’s something all customers should think about. “The customer is always right” is a saying for the business, it’s not a mentality you should bring with you into a store as a buyer.

Cleaning up = rearranging everything

As you saw in my previous book store post I cleaned up and organized the store according to my personal standards. This has completely thrown some people off. I did clean up, but I didn’t move any of the genres around. They are still on the shelves that they were in when the previous store was up and running. The only change is that I added a small shelf for manga/graphic novels and I moved the classic shelf to a different wall. However I’ve had people insist they can’t find the genre they are looking for and that everything looks different. I have no idea why everything thinks that. I went through a ton of trouble keeping the shelves in the same order, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. 😛

Some people have no idea what genre they are reading. 

I have people ask me for certain authors all the time, and if it is someone I am unfamiliar with I usually ask them what genre they author writes in. That way I atleast know the section of the store to check…besides asking is a whole lot quicker than pulling up goodreads. About 70% of the time I’m met with completely blank stares or confusion.n.

Vague inquiries are vague

A lot of people forget the author’s name or the title of the specific book they are looking for, which is fine…I’ve been there. I just never realized how insanely difficult it is to sleuth out a book based on a few bits of info.

Owning a bookstore in a tiny bible belt town of non-readers is boring. 

Seriously…it’s coma inducing some days. I get a lot of older people and a lot of parents with children. I’ve gotten exactly 3 customers my age, and none in the teen/YA range. This hurts my heart in a big way. I get a lot of people looking into faith-based books, which I know little to nothing about because I don’t read it. I tend to avoid discussing faith-based books as well because while I know the religion, I don’t take part in it now. So when I do sell a YA book (or just a book I’ve read) I get really excited.

So that’s a recap of this first week! Next week I think I’ll dive into my Social Anxiety’s role in all of this.

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7 Responses to Reading and Ranting: The First Week

  1. I don’t think I have said it yet, but congratulations on your bookstore!

    People are odd by nature, I’m sure you’ll have a book of funny stories within a month….I’m sure word will get around and those YA readers will come out of the woodwork!

  2. lab1990 says:

    Some customers are quite rude! And that’s a bummer you aren’t getting many teens and the like. Maybe you can promote the store to them somehow…let them know you are there and there are books for them!

    Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

  3. Briana says:

    I have experience working in a college bookstore, and it’s very similar. People come in, stare at you, and say, “I’m looking for a book.” “Ok, what book?” “It’s blue.” “What class is it for?” “I don’t know.” “What’s the title?” “I don’t know. I think there’s a person on the cover.” So basically you’re supposed to traipse around the store and show them all the blue books with people on the covers that we have and hope for the best. :p (Of course, if you ultimately make your best guess and sell them the wrong book, it’s all your fault!)

    You’ll get used to dealing with customers, though. I’m pretty quiet in real life, but you get an idea of what questions everyone asks and learn how to deal with the tough customers. And the nice ones make it all worth it!

  4. Briana says:

    Perhaps this will make you laugh. A video about bookstore customer service: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqph3Pm6T9E.

  5. Christy says:

    Oh yeah, you’re in retail now, baby. Prepare for the crazies! 😀

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