Customers who aren't customers

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Tales of a Bitchy Used Bookshop Owner

Last Sunday was forlorn. There were so few visitors you might've thought The Rapture had arrived and a bunch of sinners had been grabbed in error along with the saved.

And mostly visitors they were, not customers.

Do you get those folks who walk in, look around puzzledly for a moment, maybe a whole minute and leave. What did they think those big signs "Used Books" and "Used CDs" meant? Do they walk through doors as a hobby?

And why do so many casual visitors thank us? It isn't as if the shop is colorful or entertaining. Mostly I think they feel guilty for not buying anything and thanking us is a way to keep us for chasing them down with hatchets.

Really I don't begrudge these people their whirlwind tours or timidity.

But these non-spenders annoy the heck out of me:

I just love books.

Rarely the ones we carry. Daniel Steele and whichever Collins sister writes fat potboilers. Probably Oprah prompts them to buy more 'serious' books whose spines are likely to remain forever uncreased.

Nothing wrong with pop culture. I pack it in by the ton. But there's specialized appetites like hardboiled mysteries. Not the same as the unquestioned consumption of mass market distractions.

I better leave before I go broke.

Oh Hell, why pretend you like books. We're not the culture police. Or maybe you belong to the prior species. Maybe you only listen to what MTV2 has in heavy rotation. Spare me your feigned enthusiasm.

I'll be back when I have money and load up.

Same class as above. They never come back.

Just be a happy Nielsen respondent. Keep the consumer economy pumping. When I'm older I'll get it out of you when I collect my social security.

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Used Bookdealer
Customers who aren't customers
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