Tag Archives: working in a bookstore

Remember Customer Service? We do.

Little Bookstore is one of several on a list of second-hand bookslingers who trade ideas and share knowledge–including that there’s such a thing as being TOO local. People can take the approach that you must be in this small town because you couldn’t make it in the big city; I’ve just come back from an economic summit where rural town managers discussed this problem.

Being too local is a problem anytime of year, but at Christmas, people can also eschew specialty businesses because they believe making a mad dash through the discount warehouses will be “cheaper and more convenient.”

(Yeah, and the shortcut is always faster….)

Small Business Saturday and the Christmas season tend to be a special challenge for bookstores because much of our unique charm lies in our handselling technique; a proprietor knows his or her customers, and has developed a relationship of trust, of not trying to just sell, sell, sell but to match. We take pride in matching the correct book to the right person. Trust is the foundation of customer service, trying to help the customer rather than meet an imposed quota.

Everybody sells books at Christmas, but who can greet you by name, ask how your niece liked Divergent, suggest a new detective series because they know you like mysteries themed around food? Or, who can meet you for the first time, listen to a list of the last five books your dad read and what he thought of them, and then suggest the perfect present based on that information? How much time will you save with that kind of service?

That’s what we do, and what our friends in the bookselling business do. Because we are our businesses; we don’t just work for them. We believe in selling you what you want, not what you’ve been told you need. And we believe you are your own person.

Visit your local bookseller this holiday season–be it Paperback Book Exhange in Neenah, Wisconsin; Al’s Books out in Kansas; maybe that sweet little Country Bookshop in North Carolina; or one of the other 2,500-or-so used book shops across America. The coffee will be hot, the chairs comfy, the kittens purring, and the proprietors ready to listen, serve, and smile.

 

 

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, shopsitting, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch

It’s a Tie! HUMILIATION CONTEST

embarrassedKaren Spears and I had a grand time reading the entries for the AUTHOR and HOST HUMILIATION contest. All we can say, dear authors and booksellers, is hang in there.

Who knew angst could be so very funny?! Many thanks to all who entered; I’ll be posting  several of the write-ups over the coming weeks.

Just so they’re not on tenterhooks, the dual winners of AUTHOR HUMILIATION are Stephen Friedman of San Raphael, CA, and Suzan Herskowitz of Winchester, VA. Each will be invited to choose a date for spending a week in Wendy’s Writing Cabin, no expenses paid, but the place is free and we comp you a couple of kittens. (Jack and I rescue cats, in case anyone’s wondering.)

We’ll be blogging Stephen and Suzan’s entries this Friday.

Congratulations, Kathy Siress, on winning the HOST HUMILIATION category. We literally spit tea across the keyboard, reading this one.

Seattle, large chain bookstore, 1997.  Celebrity chef, (now deceased) long running PBS show, recently subject of a number of sexual abuse allegations by young boys.  

He showed up to book signing with his (very young) male assistant, and they immediately demanded a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin.  (I was dispatched to the local liquor store.)

Both filled their tall water glasses with gin (STRAIGHT!) and set themselves up at the signing table.

Turnout for this heavily promoted event was very poor – he had been in the news a lot lately. We also had a small but vocal group of protesters outside.

Bookstore manager was embarrassed,so she had all the booksellers take off their name badges, pretend to be customers, and line up for books.  He caught on pretty quickly since we all asked for generic signatures – no names, just “Best Wishes…” etc.  Weirdly, he had his assistant sign all the books too.

long uncomfortable evening for everyone.  and yes, they finished the gin bottle.

 

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Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, reading, shopsitting, small town USA, writing