A Great Book Buying Experience


This week a colleague and I were in several independent book stores. In one store in particular he said, “I just want to shop in this store! What makes the difference?”

This particular store is one of the finest independent stores in the country. It is an example of what a well-led, customer-focused store can do in spite of the competition, in spite of gas prices and any other excuse that’s out there. Here’s briefly why this store succeeds where other fall short:


  • Leadership. It starts at the top with a tremendous leadership team who is devoted to the store’s mission and the customer. It starts with good hiring decisions and then is followed by accountability. The Associates have a tremendously positive attitude, work hard and strive to serve the customer in all ways. Their leaders support them with training and provide job expectations every day.
  • Learning Environment. Store personnel from the founder to the latest Associate are not afraid to learn and change if it makes business or customer service sense. Some years ago I visited this store in another role and made some merchandising suggestions. They were implemented by the next morning. In this visit the ownership asked us to give them three suggestions on how they could improve their already fabulous store. They listened and appreciated what we said. They told us, “You come here with fresh eyes and we need to listen to what you say.”
  • Full Support of the Basics. They make sure to cover all the basics of great retail. They are well-stocked. They have knowledgeable employees. the back room works hard to support the selling floor. The store is well organized, well lit and welcoming. Like so many great sports teams, this store knows how to execute the fundamentals and they do it well every day.

This store proves to me that independent book retail can thrive. They fully understand that the quality of the shopping experience will not only attract and keep customers but also allow them the freedom of a solid bottom line as well. They achieve this experience (which led my colleague to want to shop) by having great leadership that develops a wonderful staff and store that’s not afraid to try new things or listen to customers. Behind it all they have mastered the basics and execute them every day.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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