Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whatever irks him, local merchant edition

(1) Lemuria, what Jackson MS has for an independent bookstore, answered the phone and said yes, they had a book I wanted. I came in, noted the $13.95 price, and had them ring it up. "That'll be seventeen-something." Eh? I pointed out the price printed on the book. "Oh, well, it's gone up since then."

Excuse me? (1) If you have your merchandise marked X, you sell it at X. (2) That was the practice when I worked in bookstores too, and it has a sound basis: the store pays roughly 50% of list price for the book, so in the case of this $13.95 book that had evidently been on the shelf a few years, Lemuria paid half of $14. So they're not losing anything by selling it at the cover price.

I told them I didn't want the book (hell, I'll get it online). I think this is the first time I've ever been tempted to figure out how to complain to the BBB.

(2) There is of course no excuse for going to P.F. Chang's, but if that's where the teenager wants to go, then I at least need a drink. Ordered a Manhattan, and was eventually presented with what appeared to be a tall glass of iced tea. "We were out of the short glasses." (1) So you load my drink up with ice instead? (2) ICE??? Why is there ice in my Manhattan? Wikipedia may claim that it's "often" served on the rocks, but they let anybody edit that shit. I've never been brought such a horror anywhere else I've ordered a Manhattan; the waiter at least should ask.

I'm happy to see that Wondrich scorns even to acknowledge the possibility of "on the rocks"; his Manhattan is served in a martini glass, as befits a drink which is sort of an anti-martini.

The real problem there of course is waiters, and even bartenders, who don't drink cocktails and don't know anything about them. Ultimately a management problem. I drank water rather than attempt to teach the staff.

We now return to our regularly scheduled bitching.

(Wondrich tip: at a bar without rye, have 'em use Canadian Club instead, as it's high on rye. Did not know that.)


  1. I hope you talked to John. That pricing issue was surely a mistake.

  2. You have touched on one of the baniest banes of modern times: the lost art of bartending.

    I can not tell you how many times in the past few years I have had to ask for a lime in a gin and tonic. "But you didn't ask for one," I have been told when pointing out its absence. Or, "I'm sorry, I thought you wanted gin and tonic ..."

    A lime is as integral a part of a gin and tonic as peychaud's bitters is to a sazerac, or julep is to a mint julep.

  3. Anderson, I wish I had your problems. (Sigh)

  4. For a brick and mortar book store to do that is unbelievable. Amazon usually beats the bookstore price by 25-50 percent. But I still buy books in bookstores simply because I can go in and flip through the pages and so forth. Plus there's just the desire to keep the book store in business. But when they do something like that. . .

  5. Anderson, I wish I had your problems.

    Oh, these are just the ones silly enough to blog about.

    For a brick and mortar book store to do that is unbelievable.

    This is what I'm saying! Nowadays, paying cover price makes you a sucker. I offered to pay cover price, and was told to pay $3 more. Maybe that's not official store policy, but I thought that untrained teenagers at the register were supposed to be a chain-store problem, not at Jackson's glorious independent bookstore.

  6. the lost art of bartending

    Word. Again, untrained kids at work, rather than a 20-year employee you might have to pay some reasonable benefits. And you are entirely correct about the lime; my late father-in-law was a gin-&-tonic man, and the lime was de riguer.

  7. I never ask for anything more daring than a Scotch and soda. Very few bars stock rye; most don't know what you are talking about. And do not order J&B out west. They don't stock it, don't know what it is and will think you ordered Black Label Jack Daniels. So if you order a "J&B and soda " you will be served a Jack Daniels and 7Up.

  8. Well, you really shouldn't order a J+B *anywhere* ... ;). Didn't know that; will warn my sis-in-law.

  9. What's weird is that I'll see a book raved about in the NYT and Lemuria has to order it while Books A Million will have it already in stock. I've offered to advise Lemuria on their ordering but they want to do it their way. I spend a lot on books at Books at Million.

  10. Possibly because Lemuria sold out quickly? But they do have a "we're Lemuria, so what we do is right" mentality. Frankly, I thought their service went down after Tom moved to Oregon or wherever ... That must have been shortly after Donna Tartt's first book, since he was there for the signing.

    (An event immortalized for me by my mom's whispered insistence that Tartt was not the same woman as on the dust jacket -- the cover photo having taken on her nose from directly forward. Tartt read Bunny's stunt at the restaurant with great aplomb.)

  11. Hey Anderson - just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I figured out which employees offered you the not so good service and made sure that they are aware that if the computer wrings up a different price than is on the book then we immediately offer the listed price.

    Jane - you do have pretty unique taste. Let's talk about this sometime.