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06 March 2015 @ 10:46 am
The State of the Book Thing  
When people ask, "How is the bookstore doing?" I'm never sure which answer is better:

"Oh, it's going pretty well, the community has been very supportive!"

or

"It really wouldn't hurt if you bought a book or two today. Some of our employees would really love to be able to work full-time."

I mean, I don't have access to our financial records, and the owners aren't really interested in crunching the numbers with me, so I don't know if the store's profitable or not.  My instinct is that we probably aren't doing that well.  Our book stock is dwindling, and our shelves look empty.  I used to be able to explain this away to customers as, "We're recovering from the holidays," but now that it's March I can't really use that excuse anymore.  I mean, we have the top books on the bestseller lists and we can order most books in pretty quickly, but if someone just wanders in browsing for something to read, the selection isn't very good.

And working full-time - yes, I would love to, and so would my co-worker Deb.  Unfortunately, it's not happening.  Even though we lost half our staff at the beginning of February, our hours didn't increase at all.  Instead, the store owners decided to spend more time behind the counter.  That, to me, is a strong indicator that we aren't making our sales goals, whatever they may be.

But it's not really my place to make that public to our customers, right?  But I don't see the point of pretending we're doing fantastic if we aren't.  I think that when we say, "Oh, we're doing well" people mentally pat themselves on the back and figure they don't need to buy anything because we're doing just fine.  But on the flipside, if we say, "Oh, we're barely scraping by" maybe those same people will decide we're doomed so they might as well give business to another store that might stick around.

I just wish people wouldn't ask; it seems like such a nosy question.  Do people ask the same question of coffee shops and clothing boutiques?