What Store Hours Say about You
There is nothing more frustrating than that locally-owned business who chooses to close right before or right after you arrive, correct? It’s almost like the indie shops should do everything like the larger chain stores, including hold early and late hours.
Why should customers expect this out of privately-owned business? Well, when you think about it, we often tout that we deserve their business in order to “keep it local.” Don’t the customers deserve extended hours? Don’t they deserve everything that the chain stores can give?
This is just the thing. Indie bookshops are not corporate giants. Oftentimes, even these giants will keep late hours while not making large profits during those hours simply so that they are known as an all-hour joint. Confusing? I call it the “Wal-Mart Effect.” Anyone will shop at Wal-Mart because of their lack of exclusivity. In other words, they have, literally, an open door policy. They never shut! Psychologically, this gives the consumer confidence, knowing that this particular business does not and will not shut down.
Should the indie booksellers stay open late and arrive early? Interestingly enough, the “Wal-Mart Effect” has an antonym. All are accepted into Wal-Mart’s doors. This has hurt them in some regards, driving away elitists. It is not exclusive enough. Why do the liquidation outlets keep 3-4 day work schedules, opening only for a few hours on each of those days? They are giving off the appearance of exclusivity. The local bookshop succeeds in the same way.
My wife and I began our first store with hours that topped out at 9:30-9:00. This wore us out and we weren’t seeing great results. Customers were coming through the doors, however, so we kept the hours for quite a while. When we did finally change to closing at 6:00, our sales were honestly unaffected. Not only do people expect their friendly bookseller to go home to their family, they seem to understand that their used bookshop is worth stopping in earlier. Gottwals Books is an exclusive shop to its customers, in many ways, because of our store hours.
We are closed on Sundays not because it is a “day for family” but because it is God’s day. If we own one thousand stores, we will never be open on Sundays, even though Sunday sales are expectedly good. Worshiping Jesus Christ is far too important for us to be open. We also close early on Wednesdays so that any of our employees, including ourselves, can make it to their respective Wednesday night church services and prayer meetings. So, in our case, we hope that our hours don’t scream “Exclusive!” as much as they do “Christian!”
What are your hours?
Have you changed them as time has passed?
Do you think my analysis is hogwash?
Do you still get angry whenever you drive past the big chain stores at 10 o’clock at night? (Why can’t I have that many cars after 6:00, right?)