For Worse and For Better

Well, it’s been an interesting week at the Willow. Week two of the absence of Alice. Although I’ve only taken on a portion of her duties, it’s amazing how much more I begin to understand about the whole operation of the store when I’m integrally involved in another piece of it, and when I just spend more hours up there, seeing more of the continuous daily operations. I haven’t come away with any new profound thoughts, just reinforcement of the old ones: Valerie is amazing and any bookstore I ever own will be named “Opening Soon.” My non-profound realization is that I do not have enough clothes to work at the bookstore everyday. I really had been trying to dress a little nicer, but I was back in my jeans and a bwb t-shirt today. VBK knew what she was getting when she hired me, but to make up for it I have been answering the phone and even placed a few phone calls this week. In case anyone reading this doesn’t realize it, my employment contract clearly states that I don’t do phones. I have been holding to that as closely as possible for the past 8 years.

What has really made this an interesting week at the Willow was Monday’s Laura Ingraham event at the Harley Davidson showroom. It was a rough event for Blue Willow staffers who just aren’t used to being ignored, pushed, and cursed. The general consensus was that it is time for us to start turning down events that we aren’t comfortable about. Celebrities are OK, politicians are OK, agitating political celebrities are NOT OK. We do share some of the blame, it’s always dangerous when we allow a third party to take control of the publicity and arrangements for an event. In the store’s defense, one of our goals really is to reach out into the community and bring authors and people together. KSEV reached many more of Ingraham’s fans that we would have been able to do on our own, and Republic Harley Davidson couldn’t have been better to work with. It was Ingraham and her people who resisted every effort of us having any control over the event and a few of her fans felt equally entitled to tell us how things should be done.  Overall, as a staff, we really have this down. We can handle divas and wall flowers and large crowds and non-existent crowds. We survive computer malfunctions and long lines and plenty of human error and drama and last minute changes and weather/environment issues and really really long events and, well, there’s something new that seems to come up at every event, and we always handle it. This was definitely as emotionally beat and whipped and unhappy as I’ve ever seen the BWB’ers after an event.  Economically it was successful enough, though we only sold about 60% of the books that we brought in for the event.

What’s past is past – on Thursday Mary Karr is coming to the store. Author of three memoirs, Cherry. Liar’s Club, and Lit, she is a fabulous speaker and it should be a lovely evening all around. Even I’m pretty excited to be working this event, I’ve heard so many great things about her. 

Hopefully my next at-the-willow post will be more positive. Alice is back next week to sort out the mess I’ve left her, allelujah!

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