Happy Noises and Kicky Feet

Josie Leavitt -- February 27th, 2013

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.

2 thoughts on “Happy Noises and Kicky Feet

  1. Marika

    As a former children’s bookseller, I was fine with parents bringing their children in just to kill time. As long as your child isn’t destroying the merchandise and you remove them of they start throwing a temper tantrum, it’s fine. Just remember to stop back in when it comes time to purchase birthday presents. We’ll probably even remember which book your child was so taken with when you were just browsing.

  2. Chris Barton

    I love a lot about this, of course, but especially this part: “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.” As a parent, I’ve found killing time in a bookstore to be a godsend, but on those occasions when a book purchase just wasn’t in the cards, I always felt a little embarrassed, as if my time-killing parental needs were intruding on the store’s commercial operations. I wonder if other non-purchasing parents feel the same way.

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