Oh, it’s that time of year again: when tourists flock to Vermont to see the leaves of autumn. Their arrival marks a shift in buying habits. Were it not for them, this would be a slow time of year. A time to gather yourself before the rush of getting ready for the holidays. The peepers, as they’re called (I’m not really sure how that term got coined, but it’s cute, so it’s stuck) are classic tourists. And every tourist, it seems, wants a memory of their trip.
It’s our job as a Vermont bookstore to be fully stocked in our Vermont books. There are lovely books of covered bridges which I couldn’t keep in stock yesterday. Two separate parties came in within minutes of each other each seeking the book. The first group got my last copy. The group of ladies from Texas seemed devastated, but I called another store in the area and had them hold it for them. The women were stunned. They’re from a town in Texas where they don’t have an independent bookstore. They browsed and bought a mass market romance that I’m sure they didn’t really need, but I felt like they were returning the favor.
Another set of peepers had come all the way from England and they were flying pig collectors. We have four shelves by the register where we display some of the flying pigs customers have given us. I kept trying to explain that none of those was for sale, that they were gifts. This woman just didn’t care. She was good-natured about it, but a little relentless. I showed her the flying pigs we had for sale, but no dice. We talked about mysteries and she had this look on her face. Finally, I asked her what was going on. She said our flying pig statue by the front door would fit in her suitcase. She collects flying pigs and wouldn’t it be great for me to give it her. I raised my eyebrow and said, “Seriously, leave the pig alone.” I tried to get her to talk about how beautiful the foliage is and she just wouldn’t have any of it. She just kept coming back to the statue. Her friend finally dragged her out of the store after they bought a short story collection.
When I closed up I checked the front door. The statue was still there.