It has been a busy few days at the store and we are preparing for an important visit on Monday. Visits during the Holiday season are always hard because while the customer is always number 1, they can rarely have a dramatic effect on your career and a bad visit can be the worst thing to happen to you in the retail world.
Today we are working on presentation as well as helping customers. Usually, Holiday customers are great because they are friendly happy people who want to spend money. Usually, they are looking for books and when we find them they are happy that we have them. Not my last customer before lunch...
I had gone to order a Four Cheese and Tomato Panini from the cafe and went back onto the floor to help a few customers while it was being prepared. I had a scholarly gentleman ask me for a couple books, one of which I had a single copy of (always dangerous but more so during holiday). I looked in a few places but was unable to locate the book. I apologized and offered to special order a copy for him. He wasn't interested and said he would pick it up next time he was in a good bookstore he will buy it. Ok, so I was slightly offended by this comment considering I run one of the best known and largest academic bookstores in the Boston area, but I let this comment roll off of my back.
He then went on to point out that I had a very large gap in my fiction section, he was disappointed that the new Cormac McCarthy book was not in the section. I handed him a copy of The Road and apologize for it not being in the section because it is popular and displayed on our Best of 2006 wall. He felt that it should be in the section and I absolutely agree with him, so it took a copy off of the wall and slide it neatly into the slot that had been left because a customer had purchased this book from the shelves and during this busy time of year we had not yet filled in the "tremendous gap" this book had left.
I ask this same customer is there is anything else I could help him with and he says that another one of this authors books appears to be missing, yes indeed it was, but I was sold out and explained this to him. He is really starting to piss me off and I roll my eyes at L behind his back! He then returns the copy of The Road that I gave him to the wrong place on the display wall and walks out of the store.
Now, seriously, was he just here to point out that I am busy and things are not perfect. I am well aware of this and I am working on it. I have a visit on Monday and I will have VPs and Regionals pointing these things out. I don't need you to point out that certain things are missing. If you want to buy books from me then please come in and ask me questions and let me hand sell to you. If you want to pick apart my store book by book, please wait until after the Holiday season because I really, really don't have time for you!
By the way: I recommend The Road by Cormac McCarthy it is a beautifully written and disturbing book about a father and son in the world following the apocalypse. Not quite an uplifting Holiday read but a great book nonetheless.