Sometimes All It Takes Is a Squeeze

Josie Leavitt - June 20, 2016

There are challenges from customers all the time. Challenges to “find the perfect book” or a toy that will “be loved forever” are heard every day in bookstores all over the country. We are used to these requests and rise to meet them happily. Last week one of our more eccentric customers came in and threw down a challenge for a birthday card for his friend turning 50. “I’m looking for┬ásomething dirty.” Admittedly, in all the years we’ve been open, this was a request I’d not heard before. But I had to consider who was making the request. James is 6 foot 6 and often known around town as a nice nut, a person who just says what he’s thinking and has a heart of gold, so I wasn’t surprised about his request.
I literally scratched my head at James’s card needs. We don’t sell dirty cards. We sell great cards, but nothing that would I call dirty. James’s idea of dirty was hard to figure out as he is also the guy in town who has a set of blue plastic testicles hanging off his truck. Knowing this did little to help me find him a card. We just didn’t have what he was looking for. I hate that moment of defeat. I was saved, however, by Karen Corvello, my visiting Baker and Taylor rep.
She had seen the entire interaction with James and decided to lend a hand, literally. She was standing in front of the register by our half-off sideline section. Karen picked up a Walter the Farting Dog toy and gave it a squeeze. It made a very loud farting noise. James was laughing. Very hard. He looked at me and said, “This is perfect.”
This moment highlights the fun of a bookstore. I know James, he knows he can be a tough customer because he has a clear vision of what he wants but often can’t quite describe it well enough for staff to really be able to help. “Something dirty” can mean many things. Karen, who had no prior knowledge of this man, but clearly had a sense of him, decided to help. The sense of community and collaboration happens every day. Customers overhear other customer’s requests and often have a genius idea that no one on staff would have considered.
James left the store squeezing the farting dog toy with a huge smile on his face.

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