Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dear Job Seekers, A Word of Advice...

I have a small family owned business.  I'm not looking to hire because I have a daughter who works for gas money and a son who works for video games.  If I'm in a bind I have a neighbor who works for books and very good friends who works for lunch and the occasional gossip fest.  I also have my Sunday girl who just likes to work with books as an escape from real life which involves a full-time job, school and motherhood.  I'm pretty set.  For the moment anyway.  If I was hiring however, these are a few of the things that would hurt your chances.

1.  I know I own a small used bookstore.  And I know that bookstore owners have a bit of a reputation for being a little on the relaxed side.  I would still encourage you to be fully dressed and bathed when stopping in to ask if we are hiring.  If I can smell you, and if I can see parts of you that one normally doesn't see in a professional setting, than I am not going to hire you.  Now or in the future.  The smelling you part also pertains to alcohol and marijuana.  What you do in your private time is what you do in your private time.  But if you don't even respect potential employers enough to dress, bathe and be clean and sober when dropping off your resume and asking for an application, than you will never respect them or their customers after you get the job. 

2.  Know your environment.  If I have to lock up the store cat in order for you to approach the counter to hand me your resume because you are afraid of cats, than chances are you will not work out as an employee of this establishment.  Many small businesses have unique quirks that make them stand out a bit from everyone else.  If that quirk is not something you are comfortable with than don't hand in your resume there. 

3.  That meltdown you just had in front of my counter because you've been looking for a job for months and no one will hire you??  Clue-I'm not going to hire you either.  Your little fit did not change my mind, make me feel guilty or make you look like a sympathetic individual in need of employment.  As a matter of fact, that little display made me happy to see the back of you and also made me totally understand why you are not employed already. 

4.  When I ask you what you like to read and you inform me that you hate reading chances are you would be a bad fit in this store.  Think about it.  If you're smart you'll figure it out.  Of course if you hate reading than you'll never see this anyway so it's a moot point. 

5.  And this ties in to point 1.  Look and act like you want to be gainfully employed.  Find out a little bit about the business before walking in and asking about a postition.  Stopping in after you tan (still holding your bottle of lotion in your hand) and asking if we are hiring (after asking if we are a book store [no-we're a tire shop]) tells me that I'm an afterthought.  And if trying to find a job is an afterthought than keeping one is going to be an afterthought too.

6.  Take "no" gracefully.  I know you are tired of looking.  I know you're frustrated.  But guess what??  I'm not hiring today. I probably won't be hiring tomorrow.  But...I may be hiring sometime down the road.  You glaring at me as you're walking out the door and than flipping off my store on the way to your car is going to guarantee that IF I am hiring in the future the person I'm hiring will not be you. 

These types of scenarios used to happen occasionally.  Once in a while I would get a job seeker in that would make me scratch my head and wince a little.  Now this appears to be normal behavior.  I can't speak for other business owners, but I will gladly work all the hours in my store by myself before I will hire someone who doesn't try to bring 110% to the interview process.  Walking into a business to ask for an application or submit a resume is part of the interview process.  It is when you set your first impression.  When you step into a small business such as mine there is more than a fleeting chance that the owner is the person you will be handing your resume to or asking for an application from.  Even if your first source of contact is not the owner, please be aware the owner is most likely on the premises.  And if the owner is not on the premises than the person who you had first contact with is going to give the owner a full report of your appearance and general attitude.  After all, this person has to work with you if you get hired.  And any good owner who values their employees is not going to hire someone an established employee had a problem with before the initial interview. 

Hope this helps. 

Sincerely,

Someone who may one day may be hiring.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hear Ye, Hear Ye (Modern translation: Yo dude, listen up)

As some of you know I've been out of the store quite a bit lately.  The direct result of a benign tumor that decided to get ugly.  It didn't get malignant, but it grew teeth and nails and a bad attitude and so it had to go.  With it went my sense of peace, security, well-being and the belief that all I had been given was sacred and  untouchable.  I've been operating in business these last nine years as if every challenge was a mere speed bump and there was nothing that could not be overcome.  After all my business is a gift from the universe and therefore impervious to all disasters.  Whoops.  I got my piece of humble pie shoved down my throat.  Not a big enough piece to choke me, but big enough to make me cough a bit and see that I'm not living in a bubble that can't be pierced by all the sharp pointy objects out there that are currently popping everyone else's balloons.  I got poked.  And it wasn't pretty.

My first reaction to this sudden insight was very mature.  I huddled on my couch under my electric blanket clutching my heating pad and taking drugs.  (I'd just had surgery, they were prescribed-chill)  Next I graduated to whimpering, complaining and general thumbsucking.  As you can see I'm a very proactive and forward thinking individual.  The thumbsucking stage was followed quickly by grief stages.  Denial (uh-no, this is not going to effect my business), anger (how dare anything effect my business), bargaining (I promise I'll be good if this doesn't effect my business), depression (I'm so sad that this is going to effect my business) and finally acceptance (yup-this is going to effect my business).  Again, let me reiterate that there was nothing that was earth shattering or immediately detrimental, just a wake-up call to all the little creeping niggley things that can slowly erode what looks like a solid foundation.  So I woke up.  I reassessed.  And I discovered that for all my time with my head in the sand I was actually still in very good shape.  The goal was to stay that way.  So I reached out to that big ole universe to see what else it had in store for me.  And that brings me to my big announcement today.  The first of a few that will take place in the next couple of months.

Ready??  Here goes.  Take a deep breath.  R & B Used Books has a satellite location now.  Thanks to our good friends at Breads & Threads in Canterbury Village we have the opportunity to place our overstock in another location.  I've spent a couple of Sunday's down there and man is the place cool.  Not only will we be selling out of Breads & Threads in Canterbury Village, but we will be able to keep everyone updated on all the awesome things going on down there.  http://canterburyvillage.com/  I'm looking forward to St. Patrick's Day. And if I don't feel like hanging out Sunday??  I can go down Saturday March 16th for St. Practice Day.  Breads has some really interesting and clever craft merchandise and the owner makes the best homemade bread.  Check her out on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Breads-Threads/132585090235176  Linette (the owner of Breads) has special events planned coming up.  To keep informed "like" her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Breads-Threads/132585090235176)  There is also going to be a Farmer's Market.  You can get information for that on the Breads & Threads Facebook page also.  It's all very exciting to be a part of and I'm thrilled they reached out to me for this incredible opportunity.  Just another example of the blessed assistance I get when God reaches down and taps me. 

R & B Used Books is not going down folks.  Other stores are folding.  We aren't.  We are finding ways to expand our services and absorb the additional costs of doing business that our fine government and other businesses and utilities are presenting us with.  We haven't raised our prices in our 9 years in business and a  price increase is not in our future.  You will see some changes.  We might make a stumble and have to adjust a bit here or there, but after I whine, cry and moan I have a tendency to get determined.  And I'm determined to stay in business.  I'm determined to continue to offer amazing service to the most amazing customers in the world.  I'm determined to keep practicing the fine art of selling education, recreation and information in book form.  The next phase is set to happen within the very walls of our humble store here in Grand Blanc.  Look for a streamlining of inventory now that we have a venue for our overstock.  Look for cleaner aisles and a less cluttery feel.  Look for more smiles as we've all taken a deep breath and feel much more secure than we did when I was unceremoniously thrust under the knife (literally, thankyouverymuch).

I know I don't say thank you to my customer base often enough.  YOU are this store.  YOU make up this business.  Without YOU there is no business here.  So a heartfelt thank you to all of you who frequent my store, groan at my (infrequent) blogs and bad jokes and still trust me enough to send in your friends and family.  A thank you was even meowed by the grumpy store cat.  Looking forward to continuing to torture do business with you all in the future.

Sincerely,

Beth (thebookladi)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Do you like little girls??

My dad has been on my mind a lot lately, comingled with thoughts of a much simpler and innocent time.  My dad worked for a school district in Oakland County. He worked there for many, many years and ultimately retired from there.  One of his interview questions was "do you like little girls?".  His answer??  "I hope so, I've got two of them."  And he got the job.  That popped in my mind late last night.

My dad did love his girls.  He had a tendency to treat us more like guys, but he loved us.  I shot guns, my sister played with bows and arrows.  We both qualified at Jr. Olympic level before we got stupid and hormonal and quit to go on dates and play with boys.  He cried when I got my ears pierced.  He threatened the life of my first boyfriend (under his breath and repeatedly) and he about went ballistic whenever I got myself into stupid or compromising situations.  (Yes, I was an 80's teen)  My sister didn't get into half the trouble I did but somehow managed to get into plenty of trouble just the same.  I think he spent our teen years mumbling and cursing under his breath and trying to pretend that we just didn't happen.  But he loved us.  There was no doubt.

My dad loved his daughters.  But he adored his granddaughter.  We might of made his world go round (until we knocked it clear of its axis) but she was the sunshine that lit up his life like no other.  He dressed her in little tights and cowboy boots. He took her with him whenever he could and quite frankly was a bit of a show off with her.  Whereas with my sister and me he was a little awkward and uncomfortable with our girlishness, with her he was totally at ease with Barbies and purses and tea sets.  If we went shopping at a store with a toy aisle he would most likely drag her in the direction of the pink stuff immediately.  To keep her out of my hair while I shopped, of course.  He was wrapped so tight around her little finger that he resembled a pretzel whenever she was near and my biggest complaint was that he had a tendency to spoil her at a time that she needed a father figure.  I resented that then. I realize now it wasn't his job.  His job was grandfather.  And he was good at his job.

My dad passed away before his granddaughter hit her teenage years.  Laid low by that bastard cancer.  He didn't have to deal with purple hair, emotional meltdowns, the goth period or her brief stint with rebellion in 11th grade.  And God how I wish he'd have been around when she was learning how to drive.  I still have PTSD from time on her learner's permit.  Sometimes I wonder if their relationship would have changed. Would he have ended up as awkward with her as he was with us?  How would he have reacted to her in her Homecoming dress and Prom and Sweet Sixteen and her first kiss?  Would he have tried to pretend she just didn't happen?  I don't think so.  I think if he had lived he would have figured it out the second time around.  I think he would have grown up with her and figured out the teenage years.  He would have been a shoulder to cry on.  A comforting hand on her back and a voice of reason in this crazy world.  I think he would have been very proud of the adult she has become.  Dean's list, Honor Society, and a solid plan for her future.  Yeah, I think my dad would have been ok with her.  After all my daddy liked little girls.  Back when it was ok to do so.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yup-It's One of Those Days.

You know the kind.  The day where you have absolutely no reason to be angry, sad or depressed, but you hate the world?  No? You don't know the kind?  I'm the only one?  Figures.  Oh well.  The sun is shining.  It's not too cold.  The birds are singing.  Every person in today has been very pleasant.  I'm getting stuff accomplished (ok-that's a lie.  But I would like to get stuff accomplished).  The holidays are coming and everyone is spouting rainbows, helium balloons and unicorns.  And I. Hate. Everything.  And I hate myself for hating everything, but I can't help it.  Just to reiterate:  I hate the world.  I have no reason to hate the world.  I know I have no reason to hate the world.  Thanks for listening.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Lost A Customer Today...

...Not a very good customer by standards of the bottom line.  She didn't come in all that often.  Only a handful of times a year.  She didn't spend all that much.  Certainly not enough to make any kind of impact on my business with her absence. 
...But I lost a customer today.  The kind of customer that leaves a hole not because of money spent or items bought but because of the presence she had.  The last time I saw her she wasn't buying anything at all.  She was picking up a certificate to help support an event her daughter was involved in.  We spoke briefly about the baby she was carrying.  We wished each other a good day.  She was here maybe a minute.  Maybe a minute and  a half.  After she left it felt like a friend had stopped in.  Always when she stopped in it felt like a moment with a friend.  She brightened my day. 
...I saw on the news this morning that I lost a customer today.  Actually I lost her yesterday but learned of it this morning over a cup of coffee while sitting on my couch.  Half listening to the news I caught the story and thought "how sad" as I often do when I hear of a tragedy of such proportions.  Than I hit reverse on the DVR.  Who's name??  What??  I just saw her two days ago.  Pregnant and vibrant and planning for her future.  So young.  All the cliches.  So sad.  Feel for the daughter.  The poor husband.  There is nothing that can make this right or easy or acceptable.
...I lost a customer today.  I read through the article in the paper and through the comment section and learned a lot about this customer.  Things I already knew and things I didn't.  Putting clues together and seeing for the first time the whole person who used to walk through my doors.  Wife, mother, employee, volunteer, friend, neighbor.
...I lost a customer today.  I've lost customers before.  I see their name in the obituary section or someone comes in and tells me so-and-so passed away.  It's sad.  I shake my head.  I say I'm sorry.  Sometimes I give hugs or cry with them. 
...I lost a customer today.  Just a customer.  One of hundreds.  But for some odd reason...it feels almost like I lost a friend.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Not Into Today

As a matter of fact, I am so not into today that I am even playing around on my blog.  Since I haven't been here since April, and it's now October that should be a fair indicator of where my mind is currently at.  Not even sure what I want to blog about.  Nothing intelligent anyway.  I'm just kind of in a blah mood.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  I went to Frankenmuth with the fam and we had a Zehnder's family style chicken dinner.  I've got a whole box of butter noodles in the fridge at home just waiting for me to fry them up.  (don't judge-yes I used the term fry in conjunction with butter noodles.  It's my heart)  We spent some time walking around Birch Run.  Spent some money I didn't have to spend on stuff I didn't need.  I did it for the economy.  It's the American way.  Soooo.

Today is the opposite of yesterday.  I couldn't care less if I tried.  I was ready for today to be over at 10 this morning,  And I'm happy to report at 10 tonight I plan on it being lights out.  4 more hours of blech to get through.  Let's hope tomorrow is a more promising day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sentimental Journey

I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head.  I don't know why.  I don't normally wake up to my own personal soundtrack but there it was stuck in my head this morning.  Sailing by Christopher Cross.  And it wasn't going away.  I tried humming.  I tried singing another song.  I tried listening to something else.  Nothing worked.  So when I got to work I YouTubed it and sat down to give it a good listen.  And than I listened to it again just because I could.  And thus started what became my sentimental journey.

My mother was a musician.  I grew up listening to her play the guitar, the piano, the banjo and ultimately the organ.  It was with the organ that she finally felt comfortable in her musical skin. She had found an instrument that she loved and could do all the things that each individual instrument could not.  It was on the organ that she could play every instrument that she wanted to and put everything together into her own private symphony.  I grew up with a big Hammond Concord Organ in the front room and a front row seat to my own personal concert.  Every.  Single.  Day.  My mother became so proficient at the organ that she taught lessons at Grinnell's in Pontiac Mall and was the church organist for our church.  And man my mom could rock that organ.  She played all the cool songs of the 70's.  She played the Bee Gee's, Barry Manilow, John Denver, Crosby Stills & Nash.  With her slider she could even do the muskrat in Muskrat Love.  My sister and I used to dance to Copacabana and The Girl From Ipanema.  Actually we were considered really not cool for being able to dance to Copacabana and The Girl From Ipanema so that is kind of a mixed memory.  One of our favorites she played was The Streak by Ray Stevens.  And with that slider she nailed that streak every time.  My dad used to lean on the door jamb and listen to her play.  And as soon as she noticed him there she would roll out some Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn and throw down on some Stand by Your Man by Tammy Wynette.  My daddy was a country boy and she would play just to him.  Although he would whistle the opening to Can't Smile Without You and she would roll that out too. My mom could play anything either by note or by ear.  If she didn't have the music she would spend hours walking through it.  Sometimes if she forgot where she was at she would call one of us kids over to sing a part for her.  And we would sing.  Over and over and over.  The same line.  Until she got it right.  And than we would move on to the next line.  Sometimes she would have a tape of the song and would about wear out the player rewinding and playing, rewinding and playing until she nailed that part.  When she got stuck on a song we would hear the same tune over and over again for days on end.  She was tireless about about getting that song down.  But when she finally, finally got it perfect it was added to the repertoire and we got to hear it in all its glory as part of her daily practice.  And sometimes if my mom was in a really good mood she would take requests and play just for us.  And my favorite song for her to play??  Sailing by Christopher Cross.  It was one of the songs she had learned to play by ear.  And she had worked for days to learn that song because it was one of my favorites on the radio.  So when she was in a really good mood and asked what she should play I always pleaded with her to play Sailing.  And I would always have her play it twice.  Just because she would.