What’s That Smell?

Josie Leavitt - February 7, 2013

This is not a question many non-food businesses want to answer. A bookstore should smell crisp, like brand new books. There shouldn’t be a smell that makes people ask you to identify it. Sadly, this week we battled this kind of smell. It assaulted you when you first came in and only grew stronger the farther into the store you went.
Monday found me almost gasping by the end of the morning. I spent much of the day on my knees sniffing corners and air ducts to search for the offending odor. After a half hour of sniffing, I was certain that the smell was a dead animal, probably a mouse. Sadly, the mouse seemed to be in the heating duct. So, picture this: every time the heat turned on, the dead mouse smell intensified. We tried turning the heat off, but then got too cold. We turned the heat up and then opened a window.
Finally, we contacted our property manager who couldn’t get anyone here until Tuesday. My brave staff endured the odor while I found a sudden and urgent need to run errands. Tuesday found staffers placing dryer sheets in heating vents. So now, we’ve got eau de dead mousie with a touch of Bounce. Everyone left the day with a massive headache. The exterminator came and within minutes had identified the source of the smell. Sadly, it was in a wall, so there was little to do. He did have a magic bag of minerals that he placed above the bookcase that should absorb some of the odors.
To diffuse the nastiness of the smell we’ve created a game for customers: if you can correctly identify the source and location of the odor, then you get an extra discount. Most who have played along can guess the source (one of the hazards of country life is the occasional dead creature in a wall) but none has correctly guessed the location. I feel like meeting the odor with good humor is the only way to make it better.
I decided to write the rest of this from home. My eyes were burning.

7 thoughts on “What’s That Smell?

  1. Francine Lucidon

    Leave it to you guys to handle a rough situation with grace and humor. How about a special story time with “Sniff,” “I Stink,” the “Stink” series and “Smelly Socks”? The craft could be making a flowery nose- gay like the Plague doctors wore. So educational! As always, indies roll with the punches. Hope you’re smelling like roses soon!

  2. Becky

    This reminds me of the time we had a rat that managed to crawl up the pipe into the wall heater. She made her nest inches from the pilot light in the heater. There weren’t any babies when we discovered the nest. The rat made a mad dash into the hall, and my husband chased after her. She disappeared. Of course, we patched the space that allowed her to get into the heater. My husband’s “solution” was to put moth balls under the house And in the attic to keep the rats away. Hey, rats find their way into the walls if they want to. I doubt the mothballs repelled the rats, but I had a raging headache for weeks until the mothball smell abated. We got rid of the wall unit and got central heat. We’ve had a few dead rats in the wall since then. I’ve tried everything to get rid of the smell, but have have not been successful. Good luck.

  3. Kathy Quimby

    The minute you mentioned the smell getting worse, I had an almost visceral memory of the mice that used to get stuck between the big floor furnace and its liner in my parents’ house.
    I don’t think even Yankee Candle could douse that particular stench–you’d replace Bounce and mice stink with Yankee Candle and eau de rodent. Hope it vanishes soon!


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