Tag Archives: bookstore

Pack it Up

Today is packing day and all the books go back in the boxes. I have enlisted the help of two grandsons (ages 6 and 9) who have agreed to work for the reasonable rate of one large strawberry smoothie each. Yes, I will take advantage of child labour.

The last days of my bookstore sale went rather well and I am quite happy with the final results of my two-month return to the world of retail. I estimate that one third – maybe a little more – of my inventory was sold, which is pretty good for the short period of time I was back in business.

So what will I do with the leftovers?

Well, I just don’t know.

There were the usual vultures hovering around the store last week, hoping I would give them more than 75% off “because we’re in the ministry, you know”. And then they wondered if I could ship everything to them in San Diego free of charge. Um . . . I think they were a little put off at my chuckle of disbelief.  And there was also the lady who came in on the last day and was pretty ticked that I didn’t have another copy of the exact same Bible she had purchased from me three weeks ago because her son really likes it and she promised him one for Christmas and she didn’t want to go to the other Christian bookstore and pay full price. Yup, she was actually mad at me.

These are the people I will not miss. Not even a little.

But I was touched and honoured by the many who came in just to say goodbye, give me a hug, and tell me what a blessing it was to have my store in the neighbourhood. Those are the wonderful people who made it all worthwhile.

So now I’m off to sort, catalogue and pack.

I wonder how long it will take for the boys to demand payment.

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, Books, Writing

Weird Bookstore Customers


I have one more week of bookstoring and it seems that all the strangest and most eccentric customers have waited until the bitter end to grace me with their presence. I’m not complaining about the additional sales, mind you. I just have to paste on my Barbie doll smile, nod at the appropriate time, and endure.

This morning I had the – um – pleasure of serving a group of five rather strange women. Well, two of them were quite normal, one was in-between, and the other two were off the charts in missing smarticles. (I love that word, smarticles. I heard it this morning from my daughter.)

Anyway . . .

The two normal ladies shopped like normal customers. Asked intelligent questions. Made lovely comments. Purchased non-fluff books. Those are books with some substance. Not like a sappy romance you read in one sitting and then forget the entire story within minutes of finishing it.

The in-between lady stayed in the store while Martina McBride’s Christmas album played through two and a half times. She belched out loud twice (the lady, not Martina McBride) and left only after one of the normal ladies came to fetch her. No purchase. Even after looking through every single book in my inventory.

The two missing smarticles ladies left me speechless. And that is not an easy task. One of them – an elderly white-haired wonder – marched up to the counter and stuck her hand out in greeting, loudly introducing herself as Mrs. C. I murmured something in reply, purposely not giving my name. She caught that and demanded to know. I was tempted to say “Batman” or something equally silly. But I didn’t. Mrs. C proceeded to help herself to the free candy canes I have out for my customers, and then generously distributed them to everyone else in the store. Really. It happened just like that.

During her subsequent tour of the store, Mrs. C could be heard enthusiastically exclaiming, “Oh goodnessy, graciousy me! Look at this! And this! I could just stay here for hours!” Oh please, Lord, today is 12.21.12. I don’t mind at all if you come and get me right this minute! Of course, if He had come right then, there is the possibility that Mrs. C and I would have been on the same bus to heaven.

Oh yeah, she bought a pamphlet on the evils of Halloween. For $1.23.

The last weird lady stood in a corner and watched. She didn’t say a word, but her eyes darted around the room as if she were expecting something terrible to happen and I must admit that the words suicide bomber crossed my mind. She was a very small woman wearing a very large jacket.

Finally, they left. After I watched them all pile into one tiny car, I locked up the store and hurried over to the coffee shop to pick up my lunch. I found my staff in shock. The crazy ladies had been there, too.


Filed under Blogging, Books, Characters, Coffee Shop, Humor, Women, Writing

When You Want to Throw Something

I’m sure you’re tired of my bookstore musings by now, but every time I think I’ve seen it all, something else happens.

Like today.

Pretty Good Customer was in last week and after an hour of browsing, she put aside a pile of stuff totaling over $200. That’s a REALLY good deal, since everything is half price. Anyway, she told me she would be in the next day when she got paid, so could I please hold it for her? Red flag. But I agreed. Well, she didn’t come in the next day. Or the day after that. Today was a week since her last visit. She came up to the counter this afternoon asking to see her pile of stuff and Pretty Good Customer proceeded to sort through it. End result = $82. This is why I seldom hold merchandise for customers. By the time they go home and think about it, they change their minds and there go your sales. Not that I am trying to encourage people to impulse buy, but hey, I’m in retail and have to make a living just like the next gal.

Then Take-Advantage-of-You Customer came in. She had purchased three or four books a few weeks ago and she wanted to exchange one of them. First of all, you never do exchanges on books because how do you know they haven’t been read? Second of all, every single sales receipt that goes out of here is stamped in big red letters ALL SALES FINAL. I pointed that out to Customer, but she protested, saying the book wasn’t what she thought it was. She looked at me as though it was my fault. I said, with a smile on my face, that it wasn’t up to me to question my customers’ purchases. She argued, saying that she didn’t want a refund. Just an exchange. I said (no smile this time) that all sales are final. When she started getting angry, I let her exchange the book. I’m such a sucker.

Today has also seen a higher than usual number of tire-kickers. (My husband used to sell cars and the sales guys always called the non-buying customers tire-kickers.) These are the people who come into the store, take their time looking at every single item you have for sale, and then smile apologetically as they leave. But they always take a free candy cane from the bowl on the counter.

I just want to see my inventory gone. Sold. Out of here. You might as well come on down and impose on my inability to stick to the rules. I’m sure I can give you a deal.

In the meantime, excuse me while I throw something.



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Filed under Blogging, Books, Humor, Writing

Bookstore Conversations

Time for another episode of “Bookstore Conversations”. They just keep coming, folks, and there seems to be a never-ending supply of great material for me to blog about when it comes to the people who shop in my store.

Customer #1: Your sign says Cash Only, but you take MasterCard, right? Me: No. Cash only. Like paper money or coins. Customer #1: Not even debit cards?

Customer #2: I know it says All Sales Final on the receipt, but when I bought this book last week I thought I would like it. I read half of it and it’s not very good, so I want a refund. Me: Sorry, all sales are final. Customer #2: But I don’t want this book. Me: Sorry. Next please?

Customer #3: Oh, this is a Christian store. Me: Yes it is. Customer #3: Why? Me: Um . . .

Customer #4: Where are your VeggieTales DVDs? Me: We are all sold out of VeggieTales. Customer #4: Why? Me: Um . . . (By now I am starting to feel like I am dealing with three-year-olds and their constant need to know why.)

Customer #5: How much is this figurine? Me: The price tag is on the bottom. Customer #5: What about this one? Me: The price tag is on the bottom. Customer #5: And how much are these Bibles? Me: The price tag is on the bottom.

Then there are the parents who bring their children into the store. They are always the families with children who must touch everything they can in the shortest amount of time possible. Why is it that they go for the breakables first? Last week I finally told one mother that if her children broke anything I would be expecting her to pay for it. She gave me a dirty look, took her kids and left. I breathed a sigh of relief.

How about the customers who come in five minutes before closing time and even though they tell you they know it’s five minutes before closing time, they stay for half an hour. And they don’t buy anything.

For the record, just in case my customers are reading this, I don’t have any Bibles in Japanese, Spanish or German. I do have one in Arabic, I think, and maybe Korean. I don’t carry World of Warcraft, USB cables, or cell phone accessories. Yes, everything in the store really is 50% off. No, I am not staying open after Christmas. No, my store did not go bankrupt. And thank you to everyone who keeps telling me how nice it is to have a Christian store in the neighborhood. I would thank you even more if you would stop talking and actually buy something!

I love doing what I do. I will love it even more when I am not doing it anymore.





Filed under Bible, Blogging, Books, Humor, Writing

The Book Sale

Once upon a time, I owned a nice little Christian bookstore in a nice little neighborhood. My neighborhood, in fact. It was a sad day when I closed that nice little bookstore, but I had vague plans of continuing to sell my books out of my home or online or anywhere else I could think of. Well, a year and a half later, our garage was still full of boxes of books, CDs, toys, gifts, etc.

Then I had a God idea. I love God ideas, because that means you are never in the idea by yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving the coffee shop that I manage and noticed – not for the first time – a vacant unit in the same commercial complex. It happens to be the same complex where my nice little bookstore was located (it’s a dance studio now, by the way). The vacant space has been that way for a couple of years and the thought came to me that I should look into renting it for the months of November and December. I could move my bookstore inventory in there, sell it off at ridiculous discounts, and come out of the whole thing with an empty garage and some cash in my pocket. The plan lodged itself in my brain, fully formed, within minutes. I contacted the building manager the same day and she immediately agreed to my unheard of, and almost insulting, low offer to rent the place. God idea? I think so.

So, with the help of my amazing husband and children, I opened for business a week later.

The inside of my temporary store looks like a garage sale, and that’s exactly how I’ve advertised it. There are no bookshelves or lovely displays. Everything is piled up on folding tables or makeshift ones. There are boxes everywhere. But yesterday, the opening day, my loyal customers flooded through the doors and I sold books. Lots of books. So many, in fact, that the rather aggressive goal I’d set for this sale is much closer than I’d ever imagined it would be this quickly. God idea? Absolutely.

While I titled this blog post The Book Sale, it’s really all about God and listening to Him when He pops these ideas into your head. I don’t even like to think about all the ideas He’s given me over the years that I didn’t pay attention to. Or wrote them off as dumb or difficult or impossible. But I am learning.

A number of years ago, I heard a sermon preached about God, the Ultimate Creator. I had been struggling at that point, wanting more creative ideas. Something new. Something different and unique. The preacher of that sermon said this: If God is the ultimate Creator, and if you are His child, then all you have to do is ask Him to share His ideas with you. You are made in His image, after all, and you have the same ability to create.

Well, that kind of revolutionized my thinking. Or at least the creative side of my thinking. I started asking God for creative ideas for my job, for my writing, for my family, for my church. And you know what? He came through over and over and over again. I believe it wasn’t so much that God was delivering more ideas to me as it was that I was paying attention and looking for them. Some of those ideas have been pretty wild!

So, back to the bookstore. Yesterday morning, before I unlocked the doors, I reminded God that He had given me this idea. He pulled it all together in a very short period of time. I told Him how grateful and excited I was. Then I asked God to do what He does best – be God. I’ve done all I can to make this book sale work. He’s doing the rest.

God idea? No doubt about it.


Filed under Being Creative, Dreams, God, Thinking, Writing


Last night I went for therapy.

The session was soothing, effective, completely relaxing, and best of all, free – well – except for the products I bought while I there. Everyone really should try it. I can even give you the name of the place so you can check it out yourself.

It’s called Chapters. (For the readers who are not Canadian, I will explain here that Chapters is our very own chain of bookstores.) There is one not too far from us.

The store is inviting and the aroma is absolutely divine, thanks to paper, ink and Starbucks. I walk in the door and pause for a moment to close my eyes and inhale. The therapy begins in that moment and progresses in familiar stages as I slowly make the circuit. Bestsellers, new arrivals, bargain books, general fiction, reference and writing, and finally, the Moleskine display. I will deviate from time to time, but this routine is part of the therapy.

I nod to the sales clerks on the floor, but they know to leave me alone unless I ask. The occasional fellow therapy recipient will smile in passing or comment quietly if we happen to stop at the same bookshelf. It’s all very comforting. Unless a parent with screaming children chooses to ignore the fact that their offspring are disrupting the peace. This is why I like to schedule my sessions during the store’s last hour of business. No kids.

Last night’s therapy was good. Quiet. Calm. Happy. An hour with thousands of wonderful friends . . . the books.

I think my mansion in Heaven will smell like a Chapters store.


Filed under Books, Imagination, Writing

The Bookstore

File:El Ateneo Bookstore.jpg

Ah, the bookstore.

This is a picture of El Ateneo in Buenos Aires. I’ve never been there, but I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to visit this little piece of heaven. I’d have to learn Spanish, but it would be a small price to pay.

In the meantime, I satisfy my cravings with regular trips to our local Chapters store. As I take my first step inside, I am greeted with the heady aroma of ink and coffee, thanks to the adjoining Starbucks. There is no perfume to match it. Really. It is an olfactory delight.

In our house, we call it therapy. To spend an hour or two in the company of so many friends – the books – is a wondrous thing. I don’t even have to buy anything.

There, now you know one of my greatest weaknesses.



Filed under Books, Writing