The holiday season, for booksellers who are at the store every day, is a single long wave and as it begins to recede tired minds sift through the happy debris of warm, funny, odd, and intense moments that remain. Here is a woman coming in to replace the Elf on the Shelf which the family dog had mauled. “It’s not his fault,” she reported. There’s a four-year-old girl telling us how she’d picked out Uni the Unicorn as a gift for her father. “He’s going to love it so much!”
One of these moment I wanted to share occurred a week ago, last Thursday that is. Sam, one of my college staffers, was looking around the store for interesting items to help demo the Mirascope sitting on our cash register counter. A fun thing about the Mirascope, winner of the Best Science Toy at our Stocking Stuffer of the Year Awards, is to try out different objects in it. He had the idea of going two stores down the street to Mainestone Jewelry, one of my favorite local stores, and a very good neighbor. They have a display of small stones for 25 cents each.
Sam was away much longer than expected. He returned with a cup full of intriguing objects, small stones, pins, medallions, and broaches. “They couldn’t stop playing with it,” said Sam. “They gave us all this stuff for free.” I immediately sent him down with a free Mirascope as a thank you. Ten minutes later customers who had seen the Mirascope on the counter at Mainestone started filing into the bookstore to buy them from us. In five days, between our two counters, I had sold all 64 Mirascopes I’d had on hand when I sent Sam down the street. It wasn’t a calculated marketing move, just the holiday season at work among downtown neighbors.