Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Strand Bookstore

They like to say that they  have 18 miles of books. Frankly it's quite possible that the number of miles is underestimated. Yes, this store is enormously larger than Bookman's in Tucson and one would be doing a disservice to say that this enormous New York institution could be anywhere close to the same level of sincerity as that fairly good sized gem in Arizona, but as it happens the Strand comes pretty close. The two stores operate in much the same way. They are both local chains, and they tend to hire friendly people who actually give a damn.

My recent experience: having accidentally purchased two copies of the same book (don't ask me why) I needed to return one. It was just no problem at all. They asked if I wanted to exchange it or if I would like my money back. I ended up using a combination of the two. No manager needed to be called. there was no overt inspection of the book to see if had been read by George Costanza in a public restroom.

Let me make this comparison: I once purchased a bag of chocolate chips from a health food store that I've been going to for years (and choose not to evaluate in this blog). Those chips were so old that they'd turned gray! Naturally, I took them back for a simple exchange. After several levels of buck passing and inspection of the product the manager hesitantly agreed to the exchange. I  accepted my fresh bag and was  left to slink off into the night like the thief that I so obviously was. Why do I go back? So far they have the best selection and they are a local store. But I continue to look for true sincerity in a health food store, and when I find that perfect combination of selection and sincerity - this one will be history.

So the Strand isn't perfect (it's just too gigantic for that) but it is superior, and they make a real attempt at hometown authenticity in our huge metropolis. They manage to walk a fine line and must be admired for that.

Evaluation: Pretty sincere

828 Broadway
New York, New York
(Corner of 12th Street and Broadway)

1 comment:

  1. Gary Phillips
    Ain't so sure about that one John. I think they hate us in that place and their pay is pants.

    Jonathan Ellis
    How could they hate you Gary? Actually I have no idea what their pay is. All I can go by is my experience in the store. If pay were the criteria and positive customer service had nothing to do with the level of sincerity - then assuming that the pay is probably better - I suppose I would have to rate Starbucks as more sincere than the Strand - ... See Morewhich I do not.-P On the other hand you really got a laugh out of me - "their pay is pants" - is that an English thing or is it just you?

    Gary Phillips
    You do make a good point. I guess for me I was thinking more along the lines of how much the person in front of me is getting payed which is more important for them rather than how my personal shopping experiance turned out. Sorry about that.

    Jonathan Ellis
    Gary - I'm not saying that you got it wrong in any way. The reality is that you happen to be a caring person who is giving real thought and consideration to what is really best for the worker and I absolutely stand with you in that. You are the best. Thanks for the comment.

    Gary Phillips
    One more thing. Is it right to go for the 'sincerity' experience even if they get crap money (just supposing they do) or shall we just order our Starbucks double espresso and lay this to rest? Be well buddy.

    Sincerity a personal experience. That being said I might very well find an absolutely sincere person working at a Starbucks (if I ever went into one - which I do not). Actually other than you having mentioned it in this case I really have no idea of what the people who wait on me make from their employers, so it is ultimately impossible to include that as a factor. NOTE: In order to maintain sincerity [sic] I have just posted this entire conversation as a comment on the Strand blog in question.
    Rock on Gary,