As my regular readers know, I’ve been set up in the Saint John City Market for the past three weeks selling books from our bookstore…this isn’t my first time selling at the Market, but it is the first attempt at being a full-time vendor. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Nothing is predictable. You can have an amazing sales day on Monday, but your sales on Tuesday might suck! There is no rhyme or reason to it…it completely depends on who walks into the Market that day with money in their pocket and a desire to buy a book. There was a raging snowstorm outside on one of my best sales days ever…I thought people would be holed up in their houses! Hopefully, it all evens out at the end of the week (or month!).
2. Listen to other people’s suggestions, within reason. My friend, Scott, (who is also a Market vendor) suggested I change my display to a U-shape with individual books highlighted in the center instead of two straight rows. He was right…it looked much more inviting, and gave the illusion of having more books. Another Market vendor suggested I stick a price tag on the books so people wouldn’t have to look for the price (inside the front cover in pencil)…no way…stickers are death on books!
3. Change is good. I change my display daily, and bring a new box of stock from the store every morning. The theme changes weekly. I learned this from a very successful Market vendor (and good friend), Becky. There are a bunch of people who go through the Market every day (it’s part of a pedway system)…I want them looking at my stuff when they pass through.
4. Word travels fast. I mentioned to a couple of other vendors that we used tomato boxes to store our books, and pop flats to mail them in. Now cardboard and boxes magically appear under my bench!
5. The public can be a little too friendly sometimes. One day last week, I felt someone looking over my shoulder, turned away from my computer and was nose-to-nose with a little old lady who was staring intently at our bookstore logo on the screen, and giggling like a little girl. It is cute, but she was certainly old enough to have a sense of other people’s personal space!
6. Customers usually fit in one of three categories. The first, buyer, is my favourite! The second, be-backer, may or may not come back, despite what he or she says (although I have been surprised more than once!). The third, bugger, will talk your ear off for fifteen minutes and leave without buying anything…if you’re going to tell me about your Great Aunt Martha’s hip surgery, at least reward me for the torture I’ve endured by buying a book!
7. Regulars are the best. My best customer so far bought seven books the first week, two the second, and one this week (he gets 20% off since he’s bought five books from us). He walked by my bench at a fast clip on Wednesday muttering, “Stop tempting me…stop tempting me…stop tempting me!” I got a laugh out of it!
8. My bladder is stronger than I thought. I’m at the Market from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work alone, and the bench across from me is vacant most of the week. I depend on the kindness of my friends (and fellow vendors) to make pit stops. My record for “holding my water” so far is seven hours (I usually don’t drink anything during the day, and wait until I get home at night to have tea). I’m hoping that I get a “neighbour” soon!
9. People are procrastinators. If I had a nickel for every customer I’ve talked to who’s said, “I’ve seen your store, but I haven’t gone in yet,” I’d have a lot of nickels! It’s been twelve years, people! It’s time!
10. Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are. Last week, a fight nearly broke out in front of my bench because one guy failed to move to one side so that a man coming toward him could get past. Ridiculous! Luckily, a woman travelling with one of the men was able to talk him out of his idiocy.
I’m having fun at the Market…I’ve met some interesting people. I’m going to keep it up as long as I can make a bit of money…
I miss Blogland, but it’s really hard to read and write when one is being constantly interrupted…and I do have to eat. I’ll try to visit my blogging buddies once in a while, and post when I have a few minutes…
I’m Not a Ghost, But Yesterday I Played One in Real Life…
This isn't me...I'm a lot taller! (photo from daddytypes.com)
Have you ever had one of those days when you wonder if you’re invisible, a mere figment of someone else’s overactive imagination? That was my day yesterday…all day!
It all started in the morning, after I arrived at the bookstore and sat down at my computer. As per my routine, I updated our store’s Facebook page with a “Today in History” fact and a book relevant to it, and added a daily quote about books. Then I opened my Hotmail. Since it was Monday, there were lots of new blog posts to comment on…
I opened the first one, read it, typed my comment and posted it. Everything was going swimmingly until I reached the fourth new post. I read the post, chuckled heartily, wrote a pithy reply and hit the “Post Comment” button, making sure to tick the box so I would receive notification of further comments. The page refreshed, and my clever comment had disappeared into the vast realm of cyberspace, never to be seen again! After a few choice words (none of which were nice), I reconstructed my response as best I could, and attempted to repost. ARRGGH! Gone! I thought, “Maybe it’s my computer.” I rebooted, and reopened all my windows. Version #3 of my formerly hilarious comment was a mere shadow of its earlier incarnations, which I suppose doesn’t really matter, because it vanished too! I gave up on that one…I was sure that person’s blog had technical difficulties.
I opened the next new post in my e-mail. Another brilliant post! I congratulated the writer on his wit and writing skill, and sent my compliments hurtling once again into Never Never Land! I tried once more (are you familiar with Einstein‘s definition of insanity: doing something over and over and expecting different results?). Remembering one of the tag lines from The IT Crowd, “Have you tried turning it off and on?”, I not only rebooted, but flipped the router off and on as well. That should do it!
With my Hotmail window reopened, I clicked on another new post. This one was about blogrolls, a topic dear to my heart. I offered my input in a couple of paragraphs, and confidently “posted” my comment. NOT! I looked around and briefly considered sticking my head in the oven, but our microwave was far too small…Instead, I sent an urgent-sounding e-mail to WordPress Support:
Subject: My Comments are Invisible!
I made comments on other people’s blogs (multiple times). I saw: NOTHING!!! (one time when I was smart enough to copy and paste a comment before I sent it, I got a notification that it was a duplicate comment…still nothing showed up!). I expected my comments to be visible!
I have cleared my cache and rebooted my computer (twice).
A little while later, I got a nice e-mail from a “happiness engineer” at WordPress apologizing for the “inconvenience” (at that point I’d been trying to post comments for more than an hour!) and advising me to send details to Akismet (the spamcatcher). “They’ll be able to sort you out.” I really hoped that somebody could…and maybe they could fix my problem with commenting while they were at it! I sent a similar e-mail to Akismet, explaining my difficulties and imploring them to do everything in their power to remedy them! I continued to read new posts, but knew that commenting on them at this point would probably be useless…I also wrote this post so that my friends would know that I wasn’t ignoring them on purpose. I contacted a couple of the bloggers via Facebook, one of whom told me that my comments had ended up in her spam bucket.
In the afternoon, we had some of our regular customers come into the bookstore: a couple of book dealers from Fredericton accompanied by a friend who was a book collector. The collector inquired about books by Mika Publishing (which happens to be located in Belleville, Ontario near where I grew up). I checked our database, and found we had a Mika book about Lunenburgh, and asked Dad to locate it in its box with the other Loyalist-related material. I went into the other room with one of the book dealers to find something for him. Dad came back with the book and asked me what he should do with it. “Show it to the guy who asked about Mika books!” I replied.
“Why…is it Mika?” Dad asked.
“Yes!” I answered, barely concealing my annoyance. Is this thing on? After Dad left the room, the dealer I was talking to burst out laughing…
“I wouldn’t have believed that if I hadn’t heard it for myself!” he said.
“Multiply that by 9 hours a day for 11 years,” I answered. “And he lives with me too! It’s a wonder I still have my sanity.”
Jim came and picked up Anna and I, and we headed for home. Hope had an appointment at the after hours clinic for 6:15, and we would have to hurry if we wanted to eat before we left again!
We bolted some Sloppy Joes and fries, and arrived early at the office. The doctor wrote a prescription for Hope. We took it to the drugstore and dropped it off…the woman at the counter told us it would be ready in about twenty minutes. To kill time, we went to the dollar store and looked for things that Hope and Brianna needed for school projects. We amassed quite a pile of stuff between the three of us, and took it to the checkout (there was no one there). Eventually a clerk came from the back and called to us from the other counter, “I can help you over here!”
“I was afraid of that!” I answered while smiling through gritted teeth, as I tried to scoop up our 57 items to move them.
“Oh, I can help you with that,” she said, cheerfully. We paid for our purchases and went back to the drugstore. There were six people in line at the prescription counter…Hope and I took our place at the back of the line. The customer who was holding up the line had a prescription that her insurance company wasn’t covering the full cost of, and she couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that she needed to ask her doctor to call them. We’d been in line more than ten minutes when one of the pharmacists came out and asked if anyone had any questions or if we were all picking up prescriptions. No one had any questions.
The pharmacist asked, “Who’s next?” and a lady who’d been standing off to my left (not in line) piped up.
“I’m just here to pick up my prescription.”
I thought, “That’s what we’re all here for, Lady…that’s why we’re in this line.”
She continued, “I was here before…I just came back!” Guess who got served before I did! I had Hope pinch me to make sure I really existed…
When we got home, I went to my computer and opened my e-mail. Still no response from Akismet, but I decided to give commenting another shot. I picked a blog I’d already tried to comment on, and typed a message about commenting earlier, explaining that the comment had probably gone into the spam. I crossed my fingers and toes as my mouse hovered over the “Post Comment” button. I clicked it. SUCCESS! Hooray!
Apparently, I’m not a ghost after all!
Filed under blogging, books, family, rants, satire, shopping
Tagged as Akismet, Belleville, blogging, books, comments, drugstore, Einstein, family, Lunenburgh, Mika Publishing, Ontario, prescription, rant, satire, shopping, spam, technical difficulties, WordPress