Bookseller Improv

Cynthia Compton - May 6, 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 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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