Tips for Customers on Shopping at Indies

Josie Leavitt -- August 23rd, 2013

I have often wanted to create a list for customers on how best to enjoy shopping at an indie. So, here goes.

- Be patient with us. Part of why folks love indies is the personalized attention. This often pulls someone away from the register. While we always do our best to triage the counter, it can be hard to extricate ourselves from the other customer. Do not hesitate to ask for help.

- You don’t need to apologize for not knowing a title. No one does. Just describe it as best you can and let us do what we do: find books with scant information. We love this challenge.

- If you have a hard name to spell, please spell it slowly as we take your special order.

- If your children are systematically destroying the store, it might be time to run around the building and then come back. Or, perhaps it might not be the right time to browse. We’re always happy to hold a stack of books for you for when you have more time.

- If you’ve decided to buy the book at Amazon or another store, you really never need to share that with us.

- Be discreet taking pictures of book covers to buy later from someone else. We see this and it hurts.

- If you’ve had a great experience, please feel free to share with us.

- If you’ve had a bad experience, please tell the manager, not the folks on the floor. And please do tell us, we are always striving to get better and need to know if we’ve failed you in some way.

- Know that ordering a book is a multi-step process. Generally, the book you ordered yesterday afternoon will not likely be in at 10 the following morning. While overnight delivery for books is often obtainable, sometimes, especially for books ordered at six p.m., it might take two days.

- Please tell us your name. We like knowing who you are.

- If there’s an author you love, please tell us. We love talking about books with everyone.

- Lastly, always check first before you bring your animal into the store, but know that I will always say yes to dogs and no to potbelly pigs.

8 thoughts on “Tips for Customers on Shopping at Indies

  1. Maureen

    I don’t take pictures, but I do take notes of new releases I want. Not to buy somewhere else, but to request from the library. I wish I could afford to buy all the books I want to read!

  2. Erin Murphy

    Oh dear. I often take pictures of book covers in stores–books written by clients and other friends, to report a “sighting,” especially when a book is displayed prominently. It never occurred to me that booksellers would assume I was taking a picture so I could buy it somewhere else!

    1. Lindsey

      I also will take pictures of books for the same reason: to spot a sighting of a title from my company. In addition, I take photos or scan barcodes to add books to my Goodreads list or personal wish list. I know that Erin and I are probably the exceptions to the rule, but not all customers are browsing to buy elsewhere!

  3. Lori

    I look up things at Amazon inside stores all the time, but it’s more because I want to read their reviews than because I’m planning to buy it there. So please keep that in mind as a possibility at least some of the time, okay?

  4. Zach S

    I work at a bookstore too, and I couldn’t agree more with the points you have made! The only thing I would like to add is an extension to your overall theme… Talk to us not only about books, but about anything, we are people too and we would love to have conversations, it’s about building rapport and connection with the people who are shopping at your store as well.

  5. Dana Stabenow

    Barbara Peters at the Poisoned Pen once waited on a customer who had left his book on a plane and couldn’t remember the author or the title, only that the cover was red. She found it on her first try. True story.

  6. Carol Chittenden

    To which I would add, “Our bookstore is an extension of our home. We welcome you as a guest, we’re delighted to see you, we offer warm hospitality, and we expect you’ll treat the contents and the staff the same way you treat your other friends when you visit their homes.” And I’m happy to say, few of our customers let us down on that score. The exceptions are always a jolt, but they’re a tiny minority.

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