I visited 5 bookstores this past weekend for my St. Louis Bookstore Review. Three were Borders and two were B&N. And I’m not happy to report that out of all 5 stores – spending 20 minutes or more in each – not a single employee spoke to me.
I’ve contributed to the death of brick and mortar stores myself over the years – buying online and now owning a Kindle. But it’s not customers who are killing the bookstores by not shopping there. It’s the lack of customer service. I saw employees sweeping the floor, manning the register, holding up the “customer service” desk. But I didn’t see any employees actually working or interacting with customers on the sales floor.
I’ve tried to keep my reviews as positive as possible, but I can only say so much on how well a store is stocked or how nice their gift selection is. I reserved my buying for the stores where an employee helped me, and after visiting five stores in one day, I still came home empty handed. And in the one store where I actually saw an employee on the floor, he walked right by, looked at me and didn’t say a word.
And yet, just last week I went to three independently owned bookstores in one day and was immediately greeted in all three right when I walked in the door. I’ve worked in bookstores before, and worked customer service my whole life, so I know the business. And now I know why business is lacking. Check the blog every day this week for a new review.
UPDATE: THE STL BOOKSTORE REVIEW BLOG HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN AS OF 2013.