Yesterday I was reminded of all that a bookstore can do for its community, one person at a time. I’m always struck by how quickly conversations can turn personal, sometimes highly personal, in the bookstore. There is a comfort level customers have in talking to us (and I suspect, talking to any indie employee) and sharing their life with us.
Randy came in to pick up her 2013 datebook yesterday, and we started talking about our hair. Okay, this is not a normal bookstore topic, but Randy and I both have very curly long hair. Often folks like us ask similarly haired folk “what they use.” I told her what mousse I use and she mentioned a hair place in NYC she loves. Somehow, the conversation veered toward my doing a stand up show this weekend for an organization that works with disabled kids.
Randy’s daughter has cerebral palsy and is blind. The show benefits the scholarship fund that lets disabled kids go to summer camp. Randy, who is still very new to the area, had no idea about the organization, but loved hearing about the possibility of her daughter being able to go to camp. She and her husband are coming to the show, hoping to network with local families. As she was leaving Randy said, “I’ve been here three times since I moved in the fall and I learn something every time.”
Trina, a woman who works in the same building, has been shopping with us for years. Her daughter’s birthday is Saturday and Trina has written a scavenger hunt for Mallory to find her presents. The hunt ends with us. Mallory is a voracious reader and will sometimes just bop down to the store while her mom is working and read. I love it when kids just feel like the bookstore is an extension of their living room. And I especially love that we are the culminating part of what looks to be a really fun scavenger hunt.
Both these women illustrate a few of the ways bookstores and customers can have some pretty special relationships.