Tag Archives: customers

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

Retail 101

I am not cut out for retail. I know this. But for the duration of the month I am going to smile and nod and keep the peace. When January comes, however, I may offer the Retail 101 course free to all of those shoppers who failed it the first time around. Or the second. Maybe even the third.

The course will cover the following:

1. Read the signs. These are important indicators as to how a particular establishment operates and it will save you time at the checkout. For instance, when the sign says CASH ONLY, it actually means you must pay for your purchase in cash. Your VISA card is not cash. Neither is a coupon or your debit card. And your looks of disgust and dismay will not change the process. There is a bank machine across the street. Use it.

2. Confirm refund and exchange policies before making your purchase. If your receipt is stamped ALL SALES FINAL in big red letters, it usually means all sales are final. No refunds. No exchanges. Done. Finished. I don’t care if your husband didn’t like the little ceramic angel candy cane holder you bought for his mother. Give it to someone else.

3. Take your kids to the bathroom before you leave the house. Most retail outlets will have a public restroom, but the smaller ones don’t like to advertise it. We have to clean them ourselves and I won’t go into detail about how disgusting it is to have to mop up the mess kids make in there. It’s even more disgusting when the parents don’t buy anything.

4. A bookstore is not a library. I still shake my head in confusion when I see shoppers plop themselves down in a chair or on the floor with a pile of books and proceed to pour through them one by one. I get that you want to know what the book you’re thinking of buying is about, but when you leave two hours later without making a purchase, well . . . I used to have a customer who would come in every Friday while her daughter was in dance class. She would sit in a chair and read, but never bought a thing. I’m sure she read six or seven entire books in my store over that winter. I’ve removed the chair.

5. No pets allowed. Since when is it okay to bring your dog into a store? It isn’t. Ever. Unless it’s a pet store. And mine is not. I don’t care if Fido is like one of your kids. I don’t care if he’s cold. I don’t care if he cries without you. Please tie him up outside before you come in. Or leave him at home.

6. You break it, you buy it. That includes anything your children, your husband, your grandmother and whoever else you brought with you might break. That Bradford Exchange plate you just dropped on the concrete floor cost me plenty and if  you didn’t want to pay, you shouldn’t have picked it up. That’s why we have PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH signs everywhere (see point #1). Oh, and you’re welcome to take the pieces of the plate with you after we have your cash.

As you can see, my course outline is coming along quite nicely. The first ten to sign up will get a free personal consultation.


Filed under Blogging, Books, Humor, 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