Retail Worker at Christmastime!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Final Trio.”

In the retail world you start preparing for the Christmas season the first week in November.  Companies send out plan-a-grams with detailed instructions on what each and every shelve in a store is supposed to look like.  In the case of a bookstore this is an amusing notion.  You get that authors make a push for sales at certain times of the year, unless you’re James Patterson who seems to just breath out a book a month!  These plans are put together by a group sitting in a “Model Store” which is supposed to resemble the basic floorplan, but rarely does.  Is the store a race-track where you can circle the entirety?  Are there multiple floors?  Hey you’ve got a display where we have an escalator!

So during the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving, bookcases are moved, complete sections of the store are rebuilt to some odd specification, and it just takes the life out of the staff while they try to accomplish everything on time.  The plan calls for 4 different displays of the same book, but you only have three copies of the book in the store.  And why is someone going to be making the holiday push for “A Tale of Two Cities”? [No really, this does happen more often then you think.  Just because someone might have seen A Christmas Carol they are going to run out for the collected works of Charles Dickens?]

Most times these changes, at least of the major changes were done in one evening lest the customers be shocked to learn people actually restocked the shelves and it wasn’t magic.  One year it was my great honor to control the music you hear overhead.  Don’t blame me, I didn’t choose endless carols for months, that’s a corporate decision.  But on this night, the overhead was mine.  The staff usually cringed because they knew they were in for an odd selection.  My theory was, you bring in a disc, I’ll play it.  But keep in mind, I’ll play something of my own as well.  That means Progressive Metal, most  likely in the form of Dream Theater.  Scratching your head, think of any music class you took.  Now remember time signature changes, they use them every couple of bars.  It’s rather unrelenting on your ears at times!

Over the system starts Space Dyed Vest, a favorite of mine since it was the ringtone for someone and I thought it would be a nice departure from the normal fast-fingered duets between guitar and keyboard.  The song itself is rather dark, a track written by a guy who was about to leave the band but hadn’t yet told them.  But the melody is incredible and as a piano player myself, when you hear tracks like this you appreciate the skills others possess.

The faces on people were incredulous!  Had Lary finally gone over the edge?  What was this music and why was he forcing us to listen.  It used to crack me up.  This same group of people could talk about any subject matter as it related to books, but music somehow got people’s differences to come out.  But then most people don;t come to work at a bookstore to become experts on different musical genres.

It’s been years since I worked retail and you can always tell those who used to in some form.  They know what an endcap is, possibly reshelve something they see out of place when they are shopping, or generally are a little bit more understanding about how crazy holiday shopping can be when the customer in front asks for “I don’t know the author or title, but it has a blue cover!”

Those are good people doing everything they can to ensure you get whatever it is you are looking for.  Yes, we sometimes joke about you later because the requests are crazy at times; but we meant no harm.  It’s our way of dealing with our own stresses.  So be kind, or that next recommendation might be for some book your grandmother will definitely find offensive.