The holidays always bring the inevitable question for booksellers: just how many books do you wrap for free? We are a small store and don’t have a wrapping station as the larger stores do. We also don’t have little elves who do nothing but wrap, like you find in department stores.
What we do have is an abundance of gift wrap styles to choose from. Some classic holiday-themed ones from snowflakes to a smart Hanukkah wrap. We’ve also gone green. Every style of our gift wrap is recycled and that seems to make a huge difference with our customers. Ironically, it’s led to more requests for gift wrapping. Because we have so many different styles of wrap we’ve developed a way to help customers decide what wrap they’d like. We’ve made a small poster board with samples of all of the wrap that we can show customers while we ring them up. This way, when we’re done ringing them up, they’ve decided which wrap they want. You know, you wouldn’t think this decision would take so long, but often this is the longest part of holiday transactions.
We wrap the first two items free and then we ask for fifty cents for all the next items, which we will then donate to our local food shelf. No one has balked at paying for the wrapping, in fact, some folks have contributed more, which is great. We ask that if folks have a lot of presents they’d like wrapped and the store is busy to come back in a hour or two. This is a simple thing, but it really helps us to provide help to the other customers in the store. No one really minds coming back. I think it gives them a reason to treat themselves to a cup of coffee down the street or to continue to browse in the store.
The staff has determined that I’m not a great wrapper, as they all practically leap over themselves to offer to help me when I’ve rung up a customer who wants something wrapped. It’s actually funny. And honestly, I don’t like to wrap, so I’m happy for the help. I have a tendency to either cut myself or actually uncurl curling ribbon, which then just hangs there limply and has to be redone. I know wrapping is wasteful and not good for the environment, but there is something lovely about a beautifully wrapped package, especially when it holds something as delightful as a book.