Saturday, November 06, 2004

Annual Harbingers of Doom

At Big Bookstore, the holidays move in on us like a snowball rolling down hill which, starting as a mere flake of snow, gathers momentum and grows in size, until it slams full-force into the store scattering booksellers hither and yon.

First there are the little signs. The calendars go up. In June. We don't want to think about December. And it is 90 degrees outside, so we don't. But it's the first snowflake of the impending avalanche.

The summer drones on.

In August, customers in flip-flops start browsing the newly hatched Halloween merchandise. More metaphorical flakes fall from the merchandising sky. But it's still too warm - no sense of doom yet.

The Christmas cards go out on the floor in September. Because, you know, we're all so fucking organized we're going to buy the cards in September, spend all of October and November writing lengthy personal messages to all our nearest and dearest, and have them in the mail by December 1st. THEN, after we've recovered from the monkeys flying out of our collective asses, we'll have time for a relaxing holiday with that little chore done. Yeah.

The Christmas wrap arrives in prefab cardboard display boxes at the start of October and the Halloween stuff is everywhere now. (The Halloween stuff is complete and utter CRAP. My GOD, I am amazed at the total shite that people will buy for this second-rate holiday. Except for the plushie bats. They are cute. I have spoken.) The Kids Christmas books are all out on the floor now. (They've been building up in the stock room since June.) The snowball is midway down the mountain and really starting to pick up some speed. I check my Grinch-O-Meter. Is this it? Is this when I finally start to sense the impending doom? Nope. Getting there, but not quite.

The Halloween stuff gets marked down to 50% off, and the Kid's Thanksgiving books go out. As holidays go, kids aren't terribly interested in Thanksgiving. There are no toys and no candy. A kid's reaction to Thanksgiving is mostly: "Eh." My needle on the Grinch-O-Meter has finally started to move though.

This week, the final sign arrives. I know now, without a doubt, that the hellish slide into Christmas has begun, for this week we have built: the Barge. The Barge is the centerpiece of Big Bookstores carnival of consumerism. It is the floor display to end all floor displays. A floor display to make merchandisers weep with joy. The beauty of the barge is that there are no gimmicks. There are no light-up displays. No motion-triggered sounds. Not even any fancy stacks. It is pure, unadulterated merchandise. Mounds of it. Piles of it. A sheer mass of books that confronts you as soon as you walk in the door. And almost every single one of them crap.

Yes, it is the arrival of the annual "literary" contributions of Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark and the like that truly heralds the arrival of the holiday season at Big Bookstore.

The needle on the G-O-M is moving into the red and the avalanche is on the way.

Give me a shovel. I'm ready.


Blogger Jexebel said...

Ugh, retail work. I feel your pain.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Bookseller said...

Well, as ALWAYS youve pretty much hit the friggin nail on the head with that post! However, you forgot to mention about the displays right infront of the cash-wrap where all the little jingle books are kept, just close enough so you can here each and every customer pounding with the keys on the faux keyboard books and the wonderful joyous christmas tunes that play from every crappy little tune book... over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over..........

1:50 AM  
Blogger Bookseller said...

OI! and the whole "Gift Receipt" delemma!.... whole nother ball game my friends...

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Studies show that people browsing the Internet have trained themselves to automatically avoid looking directly at anything shaped like a banner ad. At this time of year, I develop the same reaction to anything red and green, and to anything white with sparkles, and to anything else that hints of manufactured Crapmas jolliness.


2:12 PM  
Blogger meateater said...

There is so much to comment on. Where ever do I start. Christmas in retail OH MY GOD. Can you hear the Christmas music?? Not to mention the special orders and the last minute shopping. Gift receipts, I forgot about that. have you ever heard of anything more silly. "I would like a receipt that does not have the price on it so that if someone wants to return it they won't know how much i spent on it." Except for the fact that they will know how much they exchange it for. Oh yeah and almost all books have the price printed on the back cover. WHATEVER!!!

9:53 PM  

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