The Best Friend

She comes in every other day, happy, bright and chirpy; eager to engage in conversation about her favourite books, authors and all things bookish. She says she is moving and offers to sell you antique guides, current cooking and decorating books she has been given doubles of her by her adoring friends and relatives, outgrown books from her childhood and more.
She never buys a book, in the dozens of times she calls in she never buys a book. You have to pay her cash for her books. She even asks to take a book and pay for it the next time she comes in. After all, she is your new best friend.

She chats artlessly away. She tells you about her fabulous career, her designer clothing, her beautiful rural property, and her handsome fiancé. She confides in you about an ill relative.

She offers to mind the bookshop should you ever need to duck out for a family emergency.

After gaily chatting away for up to an hour she then browses for half an hour then another customer arrives and afterwards you realise she is finally gone, you breathe a sigh of relief and get on with some work.

You are pretty sure that she is not quite what she says she is , how else can she be on your doorstep most mornings? But she is harmless.

Then one day a customer comes in looking for an antique guide, a massive tome of approx 3kg, you go to get it from the shelf but lo and behold it is missing.

You think you will check and see if one of the old boys has sold it, it couldn’t been taken, it is too big and too close to the register .

You get a call from another book shop “has someone tried to sell you some antique guides?”. ” no”, you say “but I am missing one”.

The other book shop owner then informs you that the best friend has sold him that particular volume a couple of weeks earlier but it, along with several other antique guides, has gone missing again.

The penny drops “what else has she sold you?” you ask.

It looks like she wasn’t just your best friend.

You look carefully through the books you have purchased from the best friend you see where the other book seller’s prices have been erased because you know his writing.

You ask the other seller to check his data base .

You collect the books you have purchased from The Best Friend that the other dealer has identified as missing and pay a visit and each of you gives back the stolen books. There are so many that you had no idea were missing but you can see you own partially erased writing. You figure out what was sold to customers so they can be removed from websites. You are grateful that most of what was taken from your shop was not listed online so your fulfilment rate isn’t taking a hit.

You realise that that the pretty floral shopping bag was coming in empty and going out full, that as soon as you were distracted with another customer she was making a getaway with a bag full of stock.Bookstore Shoplifting

You ban her from the shop and file a police report.

She gets put on some sort of bond and you get a letter of apology and a cheque for $100.

The cheque bounces.

You install a two way mirror and institute bag checks and after a few months you get over the feeling of betrayal.

Therese Holland
McLeods Books
10 Station St
Nunawading 3131
ph 0398777214
open 7 days
www.mcleodsbooks.com.au

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5 thoughts on “Your New Best Friend, Maybe”

  1. Best friend who swipes stuff? Obviously having a book store is going to be more like being a middle school librarian than I thought. Used to have this problem on occasion with the kiddos. Now, do you suppose this has given me good practice for the adult versions, or have the adults learned to be trickier and will rob me blind. Sigh.

    1. A local trader with a lot more retail experience than me said he had learnt long ago to look out for customers who come in very regularly but never buy, some will just be killing time but a percentage will be stealing. The special shoplifting bag with an open top is another thing to look out for.

  2. Wow, I’m stunned by this story, and sorry for your trouble. I’ve been in business 14 years and I’ve never had anything like that happen, in fact – in all those years I’ve only ever had 2 checks bounced – one was an honest mistake that the customer fixed before I was even aware of the problem and the other was apparently a dead beat.

    I think I’ll go to sleep thinking most of the world is ok.

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