To the customer who, regarding the wonderful changes in our store, said “I don’t know why you bother – you won’t exist within a year”, a right of reply from us. We’re not sure if she thinks it’s because of the online threat, or because of threats from other leisure pursuits; either way here are seven real UBS Otago reasons why we do bother! Feel free to add some of your own – I’m sure my wonderful staff would love the support. (Phillippa Duffy)
1. We love our customers; we ring ambulances for them when they are unwell, and send get well cards after the ambulance has taken them from our shop to hospital. Your online shopping basket can’t do that for you.
2. Books power imaginations; imagination powers inventions; inventions power the world.
3. Nothing beats the look of sheer joy on a child’s face when they stand on tiptoes and buy their own self-selected book, with money from grandma. You don’t get that feeling when you click ‘confirm’ on the web.
4. Thirty-two years on I can still remember that exact same experience buying ‘Winter Story’ by Jill Barklem in London Bookshop in Invercargill’s H&J Smith’s. I still have the book, and luckily even now she’s 85, I still have the grandmother. Books and family are inextricably linked. Downloads?… not so much.
5. Pursuits of a bookish 8 year-old: I have read them in a car; I have read them near or far; I have cut, to share, in half; I have read to my pet calf. (With apologies to Dr Seuss.)
6. Our customers find joy in our books and in browsing, particularly those who are really young, really old, really lonely, really blind, or really infirm. The social importance of what we do for some customers is not lost on us.
7. We help source books for people touched by devastating health news, and after some of the inevitable outcomes, books on grief and coping with loss. Other times we are sharing in the birth of a child or grandchild, or other joyous life milestones. Our service comes with a smile, but sometimes support and sympathy.
I’ve marked October 24 2014 in my diary and look forward to re-confirming our existence in a year’s time!
Philippa Duffy, Manager, UBS Otago