A retailer’s mad dash from Thanksgiving to Christmas is always crazy and stressful and wild, but it can also be wonderful. At the Flying Pig, this year’s holiday retail season was especially fun, and it wasn’t just because registers were ringing and people packed the store (although of course that was a big part of it). There was just something extra this year, and I think it was… appreciation. Customers really seemed to appreciate our being part of the community. They seemed to be more aware of shopping locally than during any season in our 15-year history. They appreciated the personal recommendations and extra effort we put in to tracking down their gift ideas, no matter how hard to get. And we certainly appreciated their business.
We heard so many heartening comments from customers. Some of our favorites:
- “I hate Christmas shopping. But coming here is fun!” (We heard this a lot, especially in the last couple of weeks when we were all giddy and overcaffeinated and oversugared and basically swept up in the high-energy Preakness that is the 12 final days of retail. Our staff does have a lot of fun together, and since so many of us are working during the holiday season, there’s added festivity. It also helps that we offer sugar plums—bought from the Shelburne Country Store up the street—to all of our shoppers in a little dish by the registers. Who doesn’t love a treat, especially when a little overwhelmed by the mountain of Things to Get Done?)
- “I found ALL of my Christmas/Chanukah presents here. And I didn’t spend a dime online.” (Local win!)
- “You guys have the best stocking stuffers around.” (Sidelines are so so so much fun to buy for fourth quarter, and we love finding unusual, well-designed, snazzy items.)
- “You got in that book so fast!” (Heh heh. One of the lesser-known advantages of being an indie is the ability to do just-in-time ordering overnight or in a couple of days. By the way, Random House gets huge kudos for shipping re-orders so fast they rival the distributors.)
- “No one else had [fill in the title]! I can’t believe it was on your shelf!” (We have an inexplicable, slightly psychic thing that happens this time of year, where we re-order, on a whim, obscure titles no one’s asked for in a dog’s age; inevitably, someone comes a-looking and is pleasantly surprised.)
- And the most delightful: when thanking customers after a purchase, we so often heard, with such sincere fervor, “No, thank YOU for being here. We love this bookstore.” It brings a lump to my throat just remembering that. It means so much to be appreciated, and to appreciate right back.
I think all of the Shop Local efforts and the economy’s ups and downs and the end of the war in Iraq and many other global realities have brought people’s thoughts and hearts close to home. And while we all love our gadgets and new technologies, it seems to me that the shiny-new-toy daze we can succumb to has worn off just enough to sharpen our senses and clear our eyes and make us re-embrace a certain measure of simplicity. It’s heartening to me that people, at least in our small spot of the world, seem appreciative again of their own communities—the solid, bricks-and-mortar gathering places where friends meet and laugh and share sugar plums—not to mention the simple, eternally satisfying feeling of a good book in the hands.
What have you found yourself appreciating this holiday season?