I’ve been selling books a long time and there’s an art to letting customers browse unhindered by help. There are ways to know customers don’t want help: they flat out tell you, “I’m just browsing.” When I hear this it always makes feel like I’ve bothered them one too many times, or they’re just not used to being in a bookstore that actually offers help. It’s often harder to know with families with young kids when they might need help.
Yesterday, I learned for sure when not to ask a family for help. A young mom was in with her two kids. One was four and the other was just under one and in his stroller. I could hear them having a grand old time. The older boy and his mom were laughing at Shark Vs. Train and all I could see of the younger child were his happy, kicky feet bouncing in the stroller. I left them alone until the noises shifted and then I was over in a shot offering assistance.
Young families often come in just to kill time between appointments or, honestly, just to break up the day. I love it when they come in and spend quality time together at the bookstore. There is nothing more fun for me than hearing the sounds of a happy family just enjoying books. The flip side of this is when a family comes in and the little one doesn’t understand why he can’t get a book. This totally adorable boy was practically apopletic when his mom told him they were just looking. “But I need a new book! I need one!” He was lamenting fiercely about his bookless plight, but his mom didn’t cave in.
I did give him a sticker sheet, though. It’s tough being four.