Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Some unusual local pictures, Eating, drinking and dogs in bookshops and theatres
In the world of accommodating the public, be it shops, cafes, theatres or whatever the question of what is banned where is an interesting one and something that a lot of the big chains just don’t tell you.
Going back to the 1970s we had some bookshops in Hertfordshire and didn’t ban anything until about 1975, after a particularly bad year on the public behaviour front, summarised thus:-
Customer burnt hole in carpet with cigarette.
Customer exploded cardboard cup of cola over motoring book section.
Dog cocked leg at set of encyclopaedias.
The last straw with this was finding someone’s half eaten fish and chips on top of a shelf of books, needless to say the grease from them had soaked into the books.
Overall people eating and drinking in the bookshops caused the most damage in terms of cost and insurance claims or not claiming and covering the cost, so as not to increase the premium.
Anyway we decided to try banning the whole lot, food, drink, dogs and smoking expecting some sort of slump in book sales, strangely enough sales actually rose after the ban, so we have stuck with it since then.
I have a sign on the shop door that says something along the lines of, no smoking, food, drink or dogs and have had with the various bookshops I have run since the 70s.
The main justification here is that books are made of paper and you can’t get paper cleaned easily.
The main area where I occasionally have issues is “No Dogs Allowed” something I think is pretty strange as if you take a dog shopping you soon find out that the dog just won’t be allowed in most shops, so taking one into a shop with a sign on the door saying no dogs seems pretty strange behaviour.
Smoking, of course, has been banned by the government. The vaping i.e. various forms of electric cigarette is a very grey area where some places allow it and some don’t but very few have signs saying it isn’t allowed.
The other side of all this is what your other customers feel comfortable about, the sharp end of this being that not everyone wants to browse with someone else’s pit bull investigating their shopping.
On the food and drink front these days a lot of bookshops seem to be moving in the direction of being a café or bar that sells books. I think this is mostly about profit margins and certainly not a road I want to go down.
Something I did find interesting though is that theatres seem to be moving towards banning eating during the performance, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-39126467
I don’t think dogs are generally allowed in theatres, I suppose the barking would put the actors off.
Then of course we come to the whole technology thing, with pretty much everyone now carrying a smartphone, which contains not only a phone but, camera, video recorder, television and music player, we are in all sorts of grey areas.
The one I come across most often is people being asked not to take photos or video things, as the cameras in smartphones become faster and work better in lower lighting conditions though, it is becoming progressively more difficult to tell if people are taking photos or sending a text. Fortunately this doesn’t affect me in the bookshop, where I expect people to take photos of the books, look them up to see if they can get them for a better price elsewhere, or just look at photos of which books they have already got at home, so they know which ones to buy in the bookshop.