Holiday Survival Guide

Josie Leavitt - November 17, 2011

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is next week. It was 60 degrees in Vermont yesterday. That’s unbelievable. Warm weather does not inspire holiday shopping. It’s actually kind of freaky here: some mums are still blooming, the mosquitoes (a late crop from Hurricane Irene) are still buzzing in people’s ears, and yet, Thanksgiving is a week away. This means that there are just over five weeks until Christmas and Hanukkah. I cannot believe it. And while I may be disbelieving, I still have to prepare for the holiday shopping onslaught, so I made a guide for bookstores to not just survive the holiday season, but thrive.
– The first thing to remember is: it should still be fun. There needs to be a sense of fun for every day of the holiday season. It’s too easy to succumb to the panic that can surround working in retail during the holiday. Wear a silly hat or elf shoes and it’ll be amazing how much silliness this can bring to any transaction that might be difficult. Also, there is nothing more disarming than someone trying to help a customer while wearing elf ears. It just takes the edge off potential anger.
– Be prepared. Nothing can be more frustrating than running out simple things like bags, gift wrap and gift cards. These staples are vital for a smooth flowing holiday season. Without them at best you run the risk of looking foolish, and at worst, you can anger customers.
– Keep your store really well stocked. I know it can be a guessing game as to what customers will want, but not having some of the big books of the season is foolish.
– If you haven’t ordered stocking stuffers, get them in as soon as you can. People are buying presents now and having cute add-ons for the stocking, or the fourth night of Hanukkah, can only help your sales.
– Keep your displays looking fresh and change them every week. This is a great way to keep the store look vital and appealing.
– Every morning look over what you actually have on the shelves. There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than having a bookstore staffer enthusiastically recommend a book only to discover it’s not in the store and needs to be ordered.
– Do something charitable for the holidays that customers can participate in. Giving something back to your community is a lovely thing to do and it’s a win-win if customers buy books to help the charity.
– Be kind to your staff. Treats or coffee can do a lot to brighten the day of someone who is working extremely hard.
– Find ways to remind folks to continue to shop locally after the holidays. Oftentimes the holidays brings new or very occasional customers to the store. Make them feel welcome, but also try to find out why they don’t shop at your store all the time.
– Make every customer interaction a positive one. Nothing will get customers coming back more than having a great time at your store.
– Lastly, have books from every section you are passionate about. Nothing helps sway a tentative shopper more than your conviction and belief in a book.

1 thought on “Holiday Survival Guide

  1. Kitti

    You’ll feel more effect from global warming than we will here in the Southeast.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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