In recent news there was talk of a bookshop in the North Yorkshire town of Hawes charging 50p to browse their shop. The bookshop called Bloomindales owned by a Mr Steve Bloom was fed up of people using his shop to read the books and then not buy a thing and so decided to charge 50p which was then refundable upon purchases. However he has faced some backlash about this and it appears he went the wrong way about it, being called ‘rude and abusive’ and ‘bookseller from hell’, as well as receiving many complaints from their local council. But does this man have a point beneath all of this? Can you imagine if this was the ‘norm’ where you pay an entrance fee into all shops? You’d pay entrance fees into nightclubs and buy drinks without that fee being refunded. You pay entrance fees into the cinemas without knowing you’ll enjoy the film you see.
I agree that he hasn’t helped his situation and hasn’t helped his local town in the way he has gone about it, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. He’s trying to run his business and there are people using his ‘products’ and then putting them back on the shelf and this is wasting his time and putting zero pennies in the bank. If he saw it more of an entrance fee and then allowed his customers to read however much they liked, this might not be a problem. But then this seems more of a ‘library’ set up and libraries are completely free!
Is this something you would do in your shop? Are your customers notorious for ‘only browsing’? I’m not sure this could work for all businesses types, but maybe if you have products that customers may get something out of without having to buy, you could be the right candidate. However if you have products where it’s essential for customers to browse first, e.g. a clothing store where they’ll need to try them on first, this may not work. It’s always going to be difficult for independent and small shops, especially with the ‘brick and mortar’ shopping industry changing and the online retail market growing in massive amounts.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Is he wrong? Is he right? Comment below.