Springing Back to the Blog and the Bookstore

Cynthia Compton - April 19, 2021

The daffodils are blooming, the clumps of mud from soccer cleats are multiplying on the floor like the teetering number of volumes in our damaged book bin in the back room, and everyone on staff is sneezing behind their masks – ahh, spring in the Heartland, and how I’ve missed the sunshine of your friendship, dear colleagues!  Just like those brave and cheerful blooms, I’m peeking out to post this week and rejoice that the warmth of spring and the end of a long Covid winter lets us all spend some time together, politely distanced but hopeful, dreaming of summer and future reunions.

Our brave little spring display behind the counter this week (not including the books to be shelved)

Here’s a little welcome back, by way of a Saturday shift with me in the shop. Put on your comfortable shoes (or ANY shoes) and let’s get to work.

8:00 am  Yes, it’s an early arrival (with a big coffee in hand). We’ve had contractors at the shop all week installing new lighting fixtures, and it was just too late last night to clean up all the zip ties and plastic doodads they discarded all over the floor. Also, the dumpster was full again, because the restaurant next door has resumed patio dining, and yesterday was their weekly liquor delivery. Anyone need boxes?

8:30 am  Just go ahead and answer the phone even though I know we’re not open yet.  No one leaves voice mails anymore. Yes, we did receive our promised shipment of fidget toys yesterday, and no, you don’t need to describe every variety and price to the next 10 nine-year-olds who call. Just Facetime them on the shop phone – or better yet, shoot a quick video. Text it, and tell them to share. Could you throw that video up on socials? It will save us some time later today. *

FIDGETS? Yes, we have those.

9:00 am  Here comes Trish and her three kids, all in sports gear, and looking determined. Yes, we can replace that lost school-assigned reading paperback for your oldest (Oh, so you’re letting them back on the school bus? That’s exciting – no more afternoon pickup during the toddler’s nap!) and here’s the latest Last Kids on Earth book for your third grader that you ordered on the website last month. It’s OK, I knew you were busy. Would you mind taking a few of these damages from us and dropping them off in the Little Free Library at the entrance to your neighborhood? Awesome, here’s some Independent Bookstore Day flyers – yes, we will totally drop these off at your outdoor Zumba class – what a great idea!

9:30 – 11:30 am  Ring, wrap, bag, booktalk, explain the ladders and weird half-lighting in the back room a few dozen times (the contractors will be back on Monday – buy now!) wrap, booktalk, cajole reluctant preschoolers out the door to the car (it’s OK, you’ve just forgotten about tantrums and they have just forgotten how to shop. We will all get better at this). Have two no-longer-awkward mask conversations, and politely escort the noncompliant browsers outside. Well done – you didn’t even need to go in the back room to take a deep breath and regroup! Hurry back up to the board book section, though, would you? There’s a set of grandparents looking overwhelmed, and I bet they are planning a visit to see the kids for the first time in a long while. Take a shopping basket with you, OK? We’ve got some sales targets to hit this month.

Our speed-wrapping skills are returning, along with our collection of paper cuts

Noon – 2:00 pm The morning sporting events are over, and there’s a rush before…. wait, did that customer say birthday party? There’s another dad coming in with a kid in a princess dress, so pull out the unicorn paper and set that little gift enclosure card rack up by the register; yeah, I know it’s dusty. Here’s a bleach wipe.  Oh, that’s the handwashing timer again. It’s your turn to head back to the bathroom first. You might need to refill the paper towels – here’s the key. It’s locked up with the extra toilet paper. (Don’t ask.)

While you’re back there, grab this list of restock items from the stock room, and see if you can find that case of kites we were mis-shipped in December. They never did send a call tag, and it’s looking sunnier outside. Let’s just sell our way out of the returns, shall we?

3:00 pm  OK, it’s officially busy now, so I need you to stay up near the front door to do some traffic control. You don’t have to limit anyone’s entrance, but please advise them that we have a full store, and we’re happy to bring items outside if that’s helpful. Oh, never mind – the giggle of grade-schoolers with their moms just moved their catch-up chat outside, leaving us with a tipped-over plush fixture and a random selection of graphic novels discarded throughout middle grade… it’s fine. Let the next group in and turn off the music, because my “big” voice is fading and no one can hear with their masks on unless I yell, for some reason.

5:00 pm Whew. You have about a half hour until the dinner rush starts next door, so we better clean up the obvious tripping hazards on the floor and pull the web orders from the afternoon. Oh, has anyone checked the Instagram messages? There’s two curbside orders to prep, a delivery to package, and can someone call Hoosier Village for the new gate code? The last time I did deliveries, I had to pretend that my mom was a resident and I was bringing her clean laundry.

6:00 pm Well done – the store is officially closed, in spite of those two families browsing and the mess in front of the check out. No, go ahead and go home. You need to pick up your curbside grocery order, get the kids settled, and I will do the last hour and the closing chores. Here, take some tissues – the pollen count is high, and a little cry on the way home is cathartic. You did a great job.

A little bit grayer and a few more forehead lines…. but giraffe looks great.

Oh, friends, I miss you. We are (as you can see above) just fine, and learning new ways every day to be productive and positive and helpful. We keep reading good books and talking about them in every way that we can, to everyone that can listen. Well told stories, and thinking of you, make everything better.

*changing the store phone to a mobile device to enable texting is one of TEN BEST IDEAS that I had this year, and I will share all of them in my next post. Until then, be well and read good books. We’ll be here to talk about them with you.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Springing Back to the Blog and the Bookstore

  1. Beth Jarnutowski

    Oh, it’s so good to have you back. I have missed your posts!!! Wishing you a busy and prosperous Spring and Summer. Stay safe, have fun!


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