I was in the area, with some spare time on my hands, so I went into Waterstones and made my way to the cookery books, where I, without a hurry, took one book after another from its shelf and opened it up.
“Can I help you?” one of the staff eventually asked.
“Yeah, just browsing.”
“Oh, good!” The guy exclaimed enthusiastically, moving away again. “That`s always encouraged! I`ll leave you, but let me know if I can help with anything!”
There was something about this sentence, which went under my skin. I often go to bookshops to browse, buy nothing, and then go home and order the books I liked online. And I`m sure others do as well, and they must be aware of it. I always assumed they hated browsers like me, but here was this young man explicitly encourageing me!
And so I kept browsing for at least another hour and, 10 minutes before closing time, grabbed not one, but two, books to take to the till. The cafe had already closed, but the fridge with the drinks was still open and me very thirsty, so I took a bottle of cloudy lemonade and asked at the till (different guy) whether he could ring this through for me as well.
“Oh, I`m afraid not, sorry!” he exclaimed. “I can run upstairs and put it through for you there, but we are totally separate from the cafe!”
I was going to say it wasn`t important, but with a brief “Hang on!” the guy was already away and up the stairs, only to come back a couple of minutes later saying the cafe till was closed, so unfortunately, I wouldn`t be able to buy the lemonade at all. I was going to say that it really didn`t matter so much (it was probably way overpriced, anyway), but the guy kept apologising profusely and, explaining their loyalty card (which I had been unfamiliar with), he had an idea: “For every £10 you spend you`ll be getting a stamp! Here, you have three already for the books you purchased today, and I will give you another two stamps, just as an apology, so you already half filled your card! And when it`t complete, we give you a £10 voucher! Is that okay for you?” And when I asked for a bag, he said “… and, I`ll throw that in for you as well,” and did exactly that.
When I walked away, I was properly elated, because I felt I had such a good experience – one which would really encourage me to come back rather than buying my books online (unless second hand. If it`s an older book I always buy second hand). The voucher, which equates to a 10% saving, isn`t too bad either, isn`t it? And, really important for me, I can take my books straight home. I`m quite impatient that way and want to start reading new books right away – on the bus home, actually!! When they come by post, though, there is usually other things on my radar by the time they arrive, and I first put them on the shelf for later, when they never quite feel as exciting any more, as they don`t really feel like a brandnew book. (Silly, I know…)
In any case, I think Waterstones totally deserve this shoutout by being simply outstanding!!