Bookseller Improv

Cynthia Compton -- May 6th, 2019

A truly hilarious thread developed this weekend on Facebook in a group maintained by indie booksellers. A certain wry sense of humor develops when one works in retail, and the added fodder of customer comments regarding ordering product online – while they are SHOPPING IN THE BOOKSTORE – is sometimes just too tempting to resist. I thought I would share the conversation with you as a “sneak peek” into the mind of your friendly local bookseller, as they direct you towards the self-help aisle. (And watch for some of these folks on the local comedy club circuit – or at least as potential “guest posters” on this blog – in the future!)

The conversation/comedy routine began with this comment and prompt from Keith Lewis, owner of Bookie’s in Homewood, Ill.:

Today at the local grocery store, I walked up to the customer service desk and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I got apple juice at Whole Foods.” Oh wait. No I didn’t, because that’s not a normal thing to do. Also I wouldn’t shop at Whole Foods.

Keith’s post struck a nerve (or a funny bone or two, because over the next day or so, the following riffs were added on to the theme:

When I went to pick up my new contacts yesterday from my eye doctor, I asked them how they stayed in business when everyone orders contacts online these days…. (from Bob Lingle at Off the Beaten Path)

From Luann Stauss:

I walked in, looked around, took pictures and then left after telling the owner that I was really glad real bakeries were still around. It’s a tough business and need the moral support.

Sam Droke-Dickinson, owner of Dice  & Pen and Aaron’s Books in central Pennsylvania, offered:

I sat in the local pizzeria after asking them for recommendations for 10 minutes, ordering Domino’s for delivery three days from now, even though I was hungry for pizza now.

Kevin Coolidge (My Shelf Books & Gifts) replied: Did you ask if Domino’s delivers? Maybe to that pizzeria?

(Sam): I just assumed that’s who they get their pizza from too… I mean doesn’t everyone?

Keith Lewis jumped in with this scenario:

I walked into Best Buy. I asked them if they had any used iPhone XIII Pluses. They said it wasn’t released yet, so I asked them if they had any inexpensive ones. They said they only had the iPhone XS Plus. I took a free brochure about it from the counter.

From Roxanna Malone McGinnis at Get Lit Bookshop:

I went to the hair salon, looked at their style books, and told them that I save a lot of money coloring my own hair with Madison Reed. Then I told them they had a lovely shop and left.

And from Fleur Gerble at Le Papillion Bleu:

I went to the local patisserie, took pictures of their nicest looking “gâteaux.”
When the lady asked what I was doing, I smiled to her, told her how wonderful it is to have that place in the neighborhood. Then I went home and made my own cake, it’s cheaper.

I went into a music store and played every guitar while the salesperson gave me information on each one. Then I ordered the one I liked online. Of course I then asked the clerk if he’d stock my band’s demo. I’d give him a $2 discount off the price I sell them for! (from Keith Lewis)

From Kevin Coolidge:

I went to the grocery store. Uggh, the prices. I made sure to let the clerk know that I don’t buy new food.

Debbie Austin Sullivan at Book Oasis stayed with the food theme:

I went to the market and took a bite of several items then put them back, didn’t like them after all.

From Amy Anderson Henkenius at Amy’s Bookcase:

I went to a jewelry store and tried on every ring, then I told the clerk, “I’m just going to get one out of a gum machine. Thanks, though. You have a nice shop.”

Added by Kathy Magruder, owner of Pageturners Bookstore in Indianola, Iowa:

I stopped in the paint store to ask if they would let me return that neon orange paint they custom mixed for me a year and a half ago. But I love their store!

And finally, this exchange begun by Kevin Coolidge:

I went to the grocery store. Uggh, the prices. I made sure to let the clerk know that I don’t buy new food.

Is this your BEST price for this Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

and the ultimate zinger, from Fleur Gerble:

And can you match Walmart prices?



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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the mom of 4 kids, a rescuer of English Bulldogs, and the owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana. The 2600 sq. ft. childrens store was founded in 2003, and hosts daily story times and events, birthday parties, book clubs and a large summer reading program. She just completed her term on the board of the American Specialty Toy Retailers Assn, is a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and her store was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013.

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