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Since at least 2008, my knitting and crochet group has been meeting at the local Barnes and Noble in the cafe area. It’s a fantastic group of people. During our weekly meetings, we would buy beverages and snacks from the cafe area. After meeting there so long, many of us purchased Barnes and Noble memberships. And of course, an end of night run to the craft section to pick up a new book was a regular occurrence. Our group size grew over time, and one day it turned out we weren’t welcome any more.
1. Don’t Try to Compromise- Just Kick Customers Out
No one asked us at first how they could accommodate us. Instead we were just greeted by a surly assistant manager who told us we couldn’t meet there and suggested that we could go to the mall food court down the road instead. It wasn’t until several of us asked if there were other alternatives, that she said they could set up chairs in a back area for us.
2. Have the Security Guard Handle It
The first night they had us move to the back, they also had the security guard ask each person coming in who appeared to be from our group if they were a knitter, and if so, to please go to the back. The running joke in our group was that the folks at Barnes and Noble thought we knitters were criminals. Because that’s honestly how you feel when a security guard comes up to you as soon as you enter and starts questioning you.
3. Send Inconsistent Messages
Whenever a member of our group called the manager, he genuinely sounded like he appreciated our business and wanted to accommodate us. He agreed to have the back area set up with chairs and tables each week for us. But the assistant manager present on Monday nights made us feel very unwelcome. Her tone of voice and body language made us feel extremely unwanted.
4. Customer Facetime isn’t Important
With all the mixed messages going on, it would have been really nice if the manager had shown up on a Monday night when our group met at least once. But we never saw him. Ever. I know that he did not work Monday nights, but if he had taken the time, even once, to stop in and thank us for our patronage, it would have gone a long ways towards making us, and our business, feel wanted.
This past November, we were notified that we could not meet in the back area from November to January because they needed the space for holiday displays. We relocated, and due to all the reasons above, won’t be coming back. I use to get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I thought about Barnes and Noble. It was a place where I gathered with friends and enjoyed hot tea and yarn. (Boy did I buy a lot of tea there…and books.) But now, whenever I think about Barnes and Noble, it leaves a kind of sour taste in my mouth. So a different cafe will be getting my weekly business, and Amazon will be getting my book orders.