While You Were Out

Cynthia Compton - January 31, 2018

After an exhilarating, exhausting, and grits-and-bourbon-filled week in Memphis at Wi13, I returned to my little shop to work all weekend on the floor. It was great to be standing and moving around, and it felt good to hear the register ringing and have a staffer complain that we were “almost out of bags AGAIN… !” but the towering, teetering stack of mail and messages on my desk in the stock room simply demanded an office day.
You know about “office days,” right? Those six hour, no, four hour, no, surely-I-can-get-this-done-in-two-hours blocks that an owner/manager schedules herself off the sales floor, sternly reminding her staff not to interrupt while she makes phone calls, processes emails and reports, and fills the recycling bin with all manner of printed notices and marketing flotsam? So here I sit, looking at all this accumulated Very Important Paper, wondering if anyone has made tea, and studiously ignoring the boxes of ARCs that Fed Ex just delivered, my spoils from the show tempting me in all their unread possibility.

So just pull up that rolling chair (No, don’t touch the left armrest – it falls off!! That’s ok, I can just jiggle it back on) and have a cookie out of the tin right there. We’ll knock this out in no time:
TO: Cynthia FROM: Mrs Albertson PHONE: 317-xxx-xxxx Pls call customer – wants to return giant t-rex. Explained “no plush return policy.” Not pleased. (we’ll just leave that call for a few minutes, OK?)
TO: Cynthia FROM: Megan  RE: Birthday party this weekend for Schuyler, age 3. Please increase guest list to 13 children, but there will also be 4 grandparents, two aunts, and a nanny. Reminder, party theme is PIRATES, but family requests no weapons, and mom is concerned about accidents with eye patches. (um…. could you just page through some of those pirate books over there, and maybe jot down a list of ideas for dress-up and pirate activities without swords?)
Cynthia: Here are all the book order forms from Maple Elementary for the visit next week that were turned in. They had two late school starts (ice) and one snow day last week, though, so there may be some missing. Author’s publicist called to confirm location, but I’m not sure she understood that S. E. 34 South is a county road. I told her it’s next to the grain elevator, but I’m not sure that helped. – P. (could you just sort these by title, and then add 20 copies of each? perfect.)
(large stack of catalogs overflowing smallish box with post-it note attached to the side) Hi, Cynthia! I stopped by but the staff said that you were out all week – must be nice to be on vacation – so I’m leaving you all the 2018 toy catalogs we have so far, and a list of vendor specials for first quarter. You’ll see that our line list has changed, so you will need to submit new account applications for each of these companies, and include a credit sheet. Please email me any orders that you plan to submit at Toy Fair, or I won’t get credit. If you want to meet at Javits, I have a few times left. Thanks!  – J.  (have another cookie while I run out to the register and have someone start printing inventory reports on these lines, OK?)
(extra large manila envelope from local newspaper, sealed with packing tape) Dear 4 Kids Books, Here are the entries in the BE A READER, BE A LEADER coloring contest. In your role as sponsor, please select the top three entries to be used in your color advertisement in the February 12th issue. Please return the winning entries to our office ASAP, and we will notify the prizewinners. (This one is all yours. I always pick the pictures with the most coloring outside the lines.)
Bills: Utilities, HVAC repair, rent statement and CAM reconciliation, and dues to ABA, ASTRA, and Chamber. Phone call, check, check (with terse note from me about sidewalk repair), and darn it, I forgot my passwords again. Reset, enter, pay. (Note: why are association websites more carefully protected than my bank’s ATM machine?) (if you want to put stamps on those, you can run them outside to the mailbox for me.)
An ARC in a shiny silver padded envelope.  (go ahead and open that one in case there’s chocolate inside – you can have it. Take the stickers out front to the register, then just put the book in my backpack for tonight’s reading.)
The rest of the pile contains 17 postcards about books or spring releases from smaller presses, two donation requests (it was a light week), and four newsletters from community groups. (recycling bin is right behind you, and add the request letters to that basket by the register – we’ll go through those at the end of the month.)
At the very bottom of the stack, there was a crumpled note with a picture. Dear Mrs. Cynthia, We missed you at Paint-a-Story but we had a good time. I made two pictures, and one of them is for you. Please put it up and tell me if you like it. I love you. Ryan (and Patty, Ryan’s mom) 

(Could you just tape that above my desk? I’m going to want to look at that again tomorrow.)

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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana, a 2600 sq. ft. childrens store founded in 2003. She serves on the board of the American Booksellers Association, is a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and is a former member of the American Specialty Toy Retail Association board of directors. 4 Kids was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013 and has received numerous "best of" awards in the Indianapolis area. The opinions expressed in her posts are her own, and sometimes those of her english bulldogs.

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