An Unexpected Gift

Elizabeth Bluemle - December 23, 2014

The other day, Sandy took a phone call from a customer who was ordering some gift books. At some point, it was clear that the customer began telling her an anecdote, because Sandy said, “No, I hadn’t heard that story.” We don’t have a lot of time to listen to stories over the phone at this time of year, so I knew it must be something special. And it was.
The customer told Sandy how, many years ago, she and her son had moved away from their town in Massachusetts. They didn’t know anyone in Vermont, and her son did not want to move. To make matters worse, the new Harry Potter was coming out the day after they moved, so he wouldn’t be able to get the book from his favorite store with all of his friends. The mom called the little bookstore in their new town (ours), and discovered that we were indeed selling the new release at midnight. She told Sandy, “We came to the store, and not only was my son able to get his book, but there was a party going on to celebrate. We didn’t know anyone there, but there was such a strong sense of community. That night changed our whole feeling about the move. We knew we had moved to a good place, and that everything was going to be all right.”
I’m not sure if I can articulate how touching that was to us. That anecdote sidled into my heart alongside the child whose beloved dog had to be put down and all she wanted to do afterward was come to the store for a while; we were her blankie that day. For a bookstore to be able – just by EXISTING – to make someone feel included or comforted, well, that makes all the struggles worthwhile. (Well, that and connecting readers with fantastic books.)
For the customer to share that story was a gift to us this holiday season, and we are truly grateful. Like all retailers this time of year, we find ourselves both happy and utterly fried. We love and admire and are amused (and occasionally frustrated) by and so greatly appreciate our repeat customers. What they bring to the store — their stories, their trust in our recommendations, their own book suggestions, their senses of humor, their patience, their passion for reading, their investment in our business — is essential. Without them, we simply cannot be. And so I head into this last day and a half of craziness with a very full heart.
I like to think of all you readers out there able to slow down for the next week or so, enjoying the holidays and vacations of all varieties that you may spend with your loved ones sharing stories, sharing books, toasting loved ones who are no longer with us but are still so present, and reading for as many hours as your little hearts desire.
Mazel Tov and Merry Christmas!

1 thought on “An Unexpected Gift

  1. Francine

    Just beautiful Elizabeth! And amazingly, each of us indie booksellers has these kinds of stories. Thank you ( and your lovely customer) for sharing! Books really do connect us.


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