Things I Shouldn’t Do

Josie Leavitt -- June 8th, 2011

A day in the life of a bookseller, especially one at a small store, finds me wearing many hats. We’ve gotten in several shipments of toys this week. Usually, receiving toys is Elizabeth’s domain. I don’t have the patience for it. But, she’s out of town, so I had to tackle them. You know, putting a display together is not rocket science, but there are times when it sure feels like it.

It seems each toy came with a display that needed to get set up. The first was a seemingly simple rotating four-sided block that displayed bookmarks that have motion when you move them. Adorable yes, but infuriating. There were four tabs on each side to fit the bookmark in. You would think this was neurosurgery for how long it took me to get those bookmarks in the block. It was as if my hands grew to ten times their normal size; bumbling fingers twice almost broke the tabs on the block. So, what should have taken five minutes took me twenty frustrating minutes.

The next batch of toys all had their own displays. Oh, joy, I thought, six displays to set up. The first four went great. Easy, sensible, didn’t need the instructions I didn’t have. Setting up a hanging display for pouches of toys should have come with instructions. It’s always a bad sign when I’m done putting all the pieces together and there’s a part left. The sad part comes in when I can’t figure out why I needed that part. So, I saved the part in the drawer and hope it comes in handy later. Things were going well, though, and all that was left was the header.

Putting in the header, usually a piece of cardboard that fits in on top of the display, is self-explanatory, unless you’re me. The header seemed to not only not fit, but where it is was supposed to go was so wobbly it kept sliding out. I looked and looked, and could see no way for anything to fit any better, so I resorted to a classic Vermont fix: duct tape.

Everything looks great, until it spins.

7 thoughts on “Things I Shouldn’t Do

  1. tone blevins

    totally understand the frustration with those displays. All of them! And i defy Anyone to actually Use them for more than a week in a busy kid’s section!. They are Not made to last…And if you sell even one item/toy/book, they look junky and scary…I try to mix and match: some of the display with some on my own display materials…Keep up the good work!

  2. David Hutchison

    I would throw away the ugly displays things come with and invest in some fin shelves/blocks/bins/desks etc. that will give you more creative freedom and be more inviting to patrons.

  3. Susan A

    Yep, I too know the rotating bookmark display well. Especially as I finally got it put together, turned it on, and noticed it was rotating…the wrong way. And when we turned it around, to go the right way, it got stuck every time it rotated. Needless to say it just sits still now! 🙂

  4. Spellbound

    I know exactly the rotating display you mean, Josie. I was surprised by how long it took me to set up, especially since it looked so obvious… once I actually got it together. When I got mine, I mistakenly thought the white wrapping around the block was just packing material, and took it off. Then I saw the tabs and realized what is really was… it is now Scotch taped together at the seam. The magic of Spellotape!

  5. Carin Siegfried

    I am strangely pretty good at displays and my abilities at dump assembly is part of the reason how I ended up being Shipping & Receiving manager at my old bookstore. But I still sympathize with you, as I should not have had to work so long or do hard, or felt so triumphant at the end of those exercises!

  6. Ellen R

    I’ve long been convinced that the people who design displays (book dumps included) live in little rubber rooms somewhere and have daily therapy sessions. If you get instructions, they are not for the display you actually have. There’s usually a vital piece missing or, as you say, you have an extra piece. Or you get the display together and the items don’t actually fit into it. My blood pressure goes up astronomically when I’m faced with a display to assemble! Good luck with all yours, Josie!

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