No one warned me how difficult working retail might be.
And yes, we're a bookstore, and bookstore customers -- I'd like to think -- are different, maybe even more kind, than typical retail customers. But retail is still retail, and what I mean is, we hear a lot of things. We get a lot of feedback, and although most of it is positive, the negative comments? They stick.
In premarital counseling, our minister told us that one negative comment to each other would need to be countered by five positive affirmations. Why? Because the negative words are the ones we remember.
At The Bookshelf, I'm reminded of that statistic constantly. For all the good we hear, it's those little phrases that we carry home with us:
"Why don't you match Amazon's prices?"
"This candle smells like feet."
"Why'd you move the store around?"
"Where's Lucy and Leo's?"
"You have the worst taste in books."
As booksellers, we've really got to develop thick skin, and as the owner, I really have to learn discernment. Which comments are important for me to take into account as I run my business, and which do I ignore or set aside for a later time? Which comments do I repeat to my booksellers, and which do I carry myself?
So negative comments? They're tough, even if they're said in jest or in love. They're still hard to hear.
But you know what helps?
The grandmother who brought us cookies on Valentine's Day. The little boy who wrote Rebekah a note after story time. The customer who brought me a Grassroots gift card for hosting Galentine's Day. The comment on Instagram that made us all smile.
Our customers are overwhelmingly kind. Often, they feel like our friends; sometimes, they feel like our family. It's their comments we have to remember on the hard days.
Just this last week, we'd gotten some feedback that was less than positive. It wasn't negative, really, just tough to hear. Rebekah sent me an email on Saturday with the words from a couple who had dropped in earlier that day:
"We made a pledge to buy a book every time we come in this bookstore."
It doesn't get better than that. Those words? Those words, we'll remember. The other feedback? Even when it's negative, it can be important to hear. But the words I hope we'll remember are the good ones, the kind ones, the ones who remind us what we're doing here is good and important and valuable.
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. Trust me; we're listening.