Sunday, June 10, 2018

Plans Awry

It was a busy Saturday at the thrift book store. Lots of shoppers said they liked the changes I've made--especially facing books forward, and a couple even let me know they bought books because of it.

Lemons & Birch

One man bought (for 99¢) a clean old copy of Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell >
about living on Cyprus, which he'd read and loved years ago, he told me, but had forgotten. 
 (I'd chosen it out because it was a favorite of my mothers.)

He said "I'd never have thought of it again, if you hadn't put it facing out." 
So that was great, but those pesky shoppers... They keep messing up my displays. 
I didn't end up putting up the movie still of John Cusak & Love in the Time of Cholera because a guy told me he was looking for books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and he bought all five of them.
"Put that cholera one back!" I wanted to say. "I had plans for it."

And then a woman asked the price of a framed Gustav Klimt poster I'd put on top of a tall bookshelf. (All unused space, before.)
 < Not this one, left, but
similar, with Klimt's name in gilt, and from the same "Birch Forest" series.
I should have priced it myself ($25?), but standing right there was the Assistant Manager, a woman I like, so I asked her, 
"How much for that poster?"

And she said right to the customer, 
"Four dollars."

I let out a cry of dismay, but of course the shopper was on it. 
After the ass't manager left, the customer said, "That was a mistake".
"It was," I laughed. "But you come to thrift stores to get a good deal, right?"

Later the ass't manager was apologetic: "I didn't realize it was art."

"That's OK," I said. "It doesn't matter---my philosophy is that it's good to move the merchandise, even if we could get more money for it."

Really, the whole place is a river--you want it to keep moving.
But, in fact, I kept fretting about it, not really because it sold too cheaply but because I didn't want it to sell at all! I wanted to keep enjoying it.
But this is a store! It's for selling things!
If I want something, I could buy it myself.

Sometimes Failing Is a Good Thing

Then my plans to paint a bookshelf to feature Young Adult books went awry. I know a lot about books (more than I'd even realized), but I know squat about paint.

The white shelves are a hard shiny surface, so the red paint went on streaky, and the color looked pinky-fuschia, not the elegant red I'd wanted at all. 
A customer said, "Oh, are you painting that for girls' books?"


The upside, however, is that my ineptitude seems to have warmed the lead furniture-room worker to me. 
This guy has been cool toward me, I think partly because the former Book Lady had not had good relations with the staff. He'd told me she was mean, and another coworker said, "She thought she was better than us."

I'd sensed that too, in the brief time I'd worked with her. She made disparaging remarks to me about coworkers being "illiterate."  Some may in fact be almost functionally illiterate, but even if so, so what? That's not a character flaw like being mean is.

Anyway, Furniture Guy seemed wary and watchful.
Maybe screwing up the paint job is the best thing I could have done--I needed help, and he could show his expertise, which is great.

"That's laminate," he said, "it's never going to take that paint. You need to use primer. What I'd have done is get a couple cans of spray paint..."
And then he walked away.

I ended up dragging the (lightweight) bookshelf to the trash and replacing it with a bookshelf that's sat there unsold for a couple weeks---nothing special, but clean and undamaged, with black shelves. I asked a strong-looking young customer if he'd help me move it, if he had a strong back, and he said he was happy to.

Furniture Guy came up afterward and said, "I don't blame you for doing that--the bookshelves out there are garbage. [True.] The books look great on the black."
He started walking away. "Come see this..."

I followed him into the storage area, where he pointed out three natural-wood bookshelves.
"Why don't you replace some of the others with these?"

Yes! They're just what I'd want for an indie-style bookstore. He's going to help me move them in on Monday.
I'm so happy to have them, and maybe even more happy that this guy freely offered this great idea and help, unasked.


Anonymous said...

Awesome that customers are responding to the newly arranged and outward facing books. It is synchronicity in action.

The co-workers are taking a liking to what is being done and most likely the niceness you have shown.

I learned years ago to never assume anything about co-workers and often asked for their assistance. A former co-worker would get mad that persons in the test lab were always running my requested tests instead of her. I just asked about their kids and vacation which they liked.

The job sounds fun and you are having fun.


Fresca said...

"never assume" ---good idea (takes some practice!)