Monday, August 24, 2009

This is why we shop at Walmart

So, in trying to plan my programs here at the library, I try to include local merchants and vendors. It's good! We should support each other! You would think-- or at least I did-- that poor struggling local store owners would recognize that this is a good thing. But it seems that many do not fully consider all the facets of our interactions. So, dear local dude, a few things to remember: 1. Even if you cannot participate in my upcoming program because of time constraints, prior commitments, you don't like the topic, etc., it would be a good idea for you not to burn your bridges here. You could suggest something else you would like to do with us farther down the road. You could regretfully decline, but be polite. You should not (a) not return my calls, (b) cancel less than 24 hours in advance, (c) not cancel, and then not show up, or (d) belittle my program or the library. 2. All this is practically free to you. By practically free, I mean that you are not being asked to pay a fee to participate, pay a fee to have your name printed on our promotional materials, pay a fee for me to include your name when talking about our program on the radio, or give us money for anything at all. The only costs you incur are your own time and effort. So don't act like I'm asking *you* to do *me* a favor or giving you an onerous task. I have put 20 hours into this program; at most, you will put in 3, and for that, plus the price of your brochures you give out, you get to have your name and face before a whole new set of potential customers. 3. Take a moment to consider how many people will be at the program. Maybe it's not a huge amount, but that's 10-30 people who would never heard your name otherwise. And consider how many people come to the library, and look at our fliers. Sometimes they take them home, even. So, if you had your name on our event flier, even if people don't come to the program, they still see your name. 4. It would help us all if you had a website. They don't cost a lot, I promise. Sometimes they are even free. I can't tell what services you do and don't offer from the yellowpages. If your yellowpages information isn't correct, 1) I can't contact you promptly, and 2) I'm pretty sure that's not my fault. 5. Please don't show up at my programs, having ignored the instructions and details I've sent you, emailed you, and talked about with you over the phone. Most of all, please don't leave your dishes here and ask when they'll be clean tomorrow. Judging by the interactions I've had with a number of people, I can tell you why privately-owned businesses are failing. A good library-vendor model, based on 2 excellent, wonderful, amazing people from last nights program: A good library friend... stays in contact with the librarian! asks intelligent questions about the program and his/her part in it! shows up early! brings everything s/he needs! brings something specifically tailored to the program! talks congenially with the librarian! raises the interests of the patrons! cleans up promptly, but not before the program is over! cleans up completely! thanks the librarian! A good relationship with the library is in your own best interest: not only do you have friends if you ever need help finding information related to your business, but you've got a free place to showcase your wares once or twice a year (or more), and you will get business from your friendly librarian who loves you!

1 comment:

Ted Viveiros said...

Hi Sarah - This article is very well written. Sounds like you were venting a little frustration and rightfully so. I will be a regular follower of your blog and encourage/refer other readers to do so as well.