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Towne Center Books stuck up

Original post made by Tired of smug jerks, Kottinger Ranch, on Sep 22, 2007

I could NOT believe that Towne Center Books won Best of Pleasanton. Do you only give award to shops that advertise in the Weekly???

I went to Towne Centre the day that Harry Potter was coming out. As the parent of three Potter fans, I wanted to treat them to three books and to go to a midnight party. But not being rich, I also have to shop for the best price. As I walked in to the store I knew that if I went to their party I would have to pay a premium over the price of $18.00, but I also figured that it would be worth something extra to get them that night and my kids could have fun. But I also thought that when I explained that I needed three books, that they MIGHT offer some discount off of full list price. I figured it was at least worth a try.

What I absolutely did NOT expect was what I got. Some jerk in shorts and a grey NYU t-shirt sitting behind the counter (I don't care if he is the owner) treated me like dirt for even asking if I could get a discount. "Go to Amazon's party"; "Buy it online then"; and basically "Get out", was what I heard along with a $35 price for each book. It's not just the price difference that made me go to the big bookstore out by Walmart at midnight that night to buy our three books for $24.95 each. They also have a much larger selection of every kind of book, and you don't have to feel like a second class citizen just for not wanting to pay full list price.

I would support a local bookstore if they treated me nice, but I'll never even walk into this one again.

Comments (31)

Posted by Tom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2007 at 10:11 am

I found it incredible that Borders wasn't even a choice in the voting list. Last time I looked, they were a Pleasanton store. You'll notice that in almost every case, the list of stores were only stores in the downtown area.

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2007 at 12:27 pm

I wrote in Borders :)

Posted by Tim
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:07 pm

Hey, "Tired of smug jerks" do you like people asking you for a discount on whatever you sell or labor you provide? How tight is the money in Kottinger Ranch? If everyone thought this way we'd have no downtown. Shop online if you really want to save. Owners of small businesses, on the average, are not very wealthy. Did you ever wonder if Wal-Mart gets the books cheaper? Perhaps they squeeze their suppliers? Do you think a multi-billion dollar corporation might use a tactic known as a loss leader? When your job gets outsourced overseas I'm sure you'll be the first to cry foul. Interesting that you complain about serice at Towne Center Books but you shop at Wal-Mart.

Posted by Paige
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:31 pm

I can't believe the fellow from Kottinger Ranch had a bad experience at Towne Center Books. I have never had anything but helpful service when I have been in the store. If they don't have a book, they will order it for me and have it within a day or two. When I was looking for a specific set of books, they checked all sets that came close to fitting my description, and found the exact set I wanted, even though the publisher said the set wasn't available. I get a wonderful level of service from Towne Center Books that I don't think I would ever get from a huge chain. While I certainly keep an eye on prices, I don't mind spending a little more at a local business. When I do, my money stays in Pleasanton and helps the community.

Posted by Jen
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 2:05 pm

It is worth it to me to pay a little bit more and shop at local, independent stores. I value our downtown and shop there. It's as simple as that.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

No one wants to sell at a discount, but a smile and an easy "I wish I could" would probably have extended that particular customer relationship.

Posted by Ty-Town
a resident of Dublin
on Sep 29, 2007 at 1:02 pm

You got called out by the Weekly President! So funny, I love Pleasanton! If you dont like book stores, you can download a book on itunes.

Posted by Still tired of smug jerks
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 29, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Let's be clear. I INTENDED to support a downtown store (or else I would have just gone straight to Borders (or whatever that bookstore by Wal-mart is). I EXPECTED to pay more by shopping downtown. I EXPECTED to pay more for also attending a midnight party. I was ready, willing and able to pay more. In fact I did pay more at Borders(?) then I would have paid on

And as for a loss-leader, you can see that was lost on me. I can't even remember the name of the store, but they did have a nice party and a great selection! And incidentally, yes I do shop at Wal-mart. Like a lot of Americans I need for my dollars to go as far as they can. I have 3 kids, and it is expensive to live in this town. It is worth it, but it is expensive, and I shouldn't have to hide my head for shopping smart, and I certainly shouldn't have to apologize to Tim for complaining when someone makes me fee like dirt for merely asking if I could save a little money.

And yes, in my job, people do ask for a discount all of the time, most especially if they are buying a quantity of something. (Ever see a flyer for a SALE???) That is the way of life for all but the very rich (Tim?). At work sometimes we can give a discount from list; sometimes we can't. But we never look down on the people who ask just for asking. We never whine about the fact that we are a small company and should therefore charge more for the exact same merchandise they can get on line or from a bigger company for less. Instead, we try and deliver value for that extra cost. A more pleasant atmosphere, more personal service, a more liberal return policy, a more knowledgeable staff. And sometimes we just expect that we won't get the business. We know that a whole lot of people never walk in our door because they go online or wherever. But when someone new DOES walk in the door, we sure don't talk down to them. Instead we try and convert them to a customer. It doesn't always work, but we feel better about ourselves that way.

To be fair, maybe the guy in the gray NYU t-shirt wasn't the owner of Towne Centre Books. Maybe he doesn't represent the views of the entire staff. But the other guy (with glasses behind the cash register) didn't say anything to offset the jerk's comments, and I took that as tacit approval of his comments.

The bottom line is that my complaint isn't the price they charged. If they had treated me well, I easily could have become a loyal customer then and there. But they didn't and neither did I.

Posted by Still tired of smug jerks
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 29, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Dear Gina -

Since you chose to use this particular issue as an example to demonstrate transparency as a reflection of integrity and ethics, may I suggest we do a complete job of it?

At least one person in this string indicated that they wrote in "Borders". Someone else remarked that they hadn't seen them on the dropdown list and wondered why.

To truly be transparent on this example you chose, why not supply the following:

1. The names of the Pleasanton bookstores on the original dropdown list.
2. The names of the Pleasanton bookstores (bookstores only - not Walmarts or others that also sell books) listed in the local yellow pages, as this would be a obvious place for someone to look for candidates for this award (i.e. as opposed to a list of advertisers).
3. An explanation of why you excluded any of those on list 2 from the dropdown list. (Don't worry about providing a list of the advertisers - we can see those for ourselves!)
4. The names of the bookstores that were writeen in, and the number of times they were written in.
5. The final dropdown list, reflecting your addition of write-in's
6. The number of voters in the overall "Best of" survey
7. The number of votes for each of the bookstores, both on the dropdown list and written-in.

This type of disclosure would be incredibly easy to supply, would hurt absolutely no one, and would provide absolute transparency to this example that you chose to highlight in this week's Talking Points.

It would truly drive your point home for all of us. Hope to see your reply soon.

Posted by Surpised
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:49 pm

It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with asking for a discount, and as a business person it should be something you are used to and able to deal with. That's part of being in business. Even if you can't give the discount, it doesn't seem wise to be rude to a potential customer.

Posted by Surpised
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:52 pm

It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with asking for a discount, and as a business person it should be something you are used to and able to deal with. That's part of being in business. Even if you can't give the discount, it doesn't seem wise to be rude to a potential customer.

Posted by Patti
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Oct 1, 2007 at 9:23 am

I've shopped at Towne Center Books for over 9 years and have never found the staff rude. In fact, just the opposite. I regularily shop to puchase gifts for my family members and often ask for suggestions and receive great choices from a variety of genre. I feel strongly that we need to support independent businesses, otherwise we'll wake up one day and find they gone and we're left with limited choices. So I pay a little more to me it's workth it.

By-the-way, I ordered my Harry Potter book months in advance, lost the receipt, wasn't on the list to receive a book, but they honored my word. Maybe it was just a bad day; why don't you give them another try?

Posted by I love Towne Center Books!
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 1, 2007 at 10:00 am

As a frequent shopper of towne center books - I truly believe that they are the Best of Pleasanton! They got my vote! I couldn't imagine downtown without them. They get all of my family's business for books. Yes, I could get books at Walmart for less, but who would give us recommendations, who would ask us about our children? Where could we find great non-mainstream books - with character! (Pun intended)

Hmm, shopping at Wal-mart for books is such a less than desirable experience for me. Low class people yelling at their ill behaved children. Sick kids who should be home, or better yet in school, drooling all over the books. Gross. Plus I seem to have risk life and limb in their parking lot trying to walk to the store. Every time I attempt to shop there I ask myself why I bothered. If you're the "Wal-mart" customer, then it is no wonder why you didn't appreciate Towne Center Books.

We are so thankful that Towne Center Books is in Pleasanton. Our kids have found a love of books with them. One of my favorite family outings is dinner at Strizzi's and then over to Towne Center Books for a new book.

We love you Towne Center Books!

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Oct 1, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Tired of Smug Jerks,
Yes, the information is very easy to come by.
We had 23,890 confirmed votes by 1,196 confirmed voters.
Towne Center, Golden Apple, The Book Store and Glad Tidings were on the original dropdown list and those four were on the final list. Towne Center was the only current advertiser of the Pleasanton Weekly at the time of the contest. Towne Center had 255 votes, Golden Apple had 46, The Book Store had 41 and Glad Tidings had 11. Borders had 4 write-ins, but was not included in the drop down because two of those four votes came within the last 24 hours of the contest and therefore, there was not time, nor a reason, for me to make that change. However, as a Pleasanton bookstore, it should have been on the original list. And if the write-ins had come in a more timely manner, it would have been because the oversight would have been realized.
Lighthouse Christian Supply and Bay Books had one write-in each. By including this year’s write-ins, next year’s dropdown will be more complete.
The Yellow Pages is not a good source of information. The information in a directory of that type is outdated before it goes to press. (For example, Bay Books....)
That's why I relied on the write-ins. And in a couple other categories, the write-in candidates won.
I am sure that Towne Center’s success in the contest did have something to do with their ads in the Pleasanton Weekly. Advertising creates top of mind awareness. I’m sorry that you had a less-than-positive experience there, but from what I’ve been reading on this forum, many more people have been very happy.

Posted by Phil
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 1, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Interesting that you point out the “NYU t-shirt” the clerk was wearing. You must be some republican who thought “NYU = liberal” and you took an immediate dislike to the man. I bet if he had an Alabama t-shirt you would not have made this post. You just got nailed!!!!

Posted by Small Biz Owner
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 1, 2007 at 5:10 pm

"The Yellow Pages is not a good source of information. The information in a directory of that type is outdated before it goes to press."

Completely Agree. The yellow page sets me back $150 a month for my name, phone #, and web address. It's not free to be in the Yellow Pages. It's actually the most expensive form of advertising and the least effective. There's no real benefit if the Pleasanton Weekly used a list of businesses from the yellow pages - it's just another form of paid advertising.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 1, 2007 at 7:11 pm

Tired of smug jerks,
If you "EXPECTED to pay more by shopping downtown" then why did you ask for the discount? Next time you are at Wal-Mart ask them for a discount and see what you get. You no doubt displayed the same attitude to the Towne Center employee that you conveyed online and that's why you got the resonse that you did.

Posted by holy cow, this is not how I remember my town
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Oct 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Please, people. Easy on the name-calling. Isn't it entirely possible that two people were just having a bad day?

I've found the nice woman who owns the Town Center books to be very welcoming and helpful, even when i've got my "ill-behaved children" with me. Just because you think you are anonymous on the internet doesn't mean it's a license to be rude, folks.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2007 at 7:30 am

Dear Gina,
I was one of the votes for Borders and I voted VERY early in the contest. I guess that didn't trigger the idea that maybe Borders should be in the list.

Posted by WorkingHardForMyMoney
a resident of Val Vista
on Oct 2, 2007 at 10:23 am

I was appalled when I read this:

Low class people yelling at their ill behaved children. Sick kids who should be home, or better yet in school, drooling all over the books. Gross. Plus I seem to have risk life and limb in their parking lot trying to walk to the store. Every time I attempt to shop there I ask myself why I bothered. If you're the "Wal-mart" customer, then it is no wonder why you didn't appreciate Towne Center Books.

How rude. Period.

Posted by Patricia
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 2, 2007 at 7:45 pm

I can only imagine the chaos at the Harry Potter release party. Late night. Lots of tired and excited people on BOTH sides of the counter. The gentleman probably could have been more polite, but it's just possible that the customer could have gotten a bit short, which often leads to a similar response.

For the record, those who pre-purchased a Harry Potter book at Towne Center DID get a little something extra -- a nice little gift certificate for $5 off their next purchase. I bought two books and I got two certificates. In addition, the lovely owner (I've never seen her in a grey t-shirt!) supports this community in more ways than you can imagine. Tell them what book your book club is reading and they'll order the appropriate number of copies AND give everyone a discount on it. Buy a book you're sure you like AND take a chance on an unknown from their 'review box' for free.

Beyond that, I support my local independent bookstore because it IS local and independent, not a big corporation. Just ask local writers how much support they get from Towne Center vs. the kind of response they'd get if they asked Borders for support! I voted for Towne Center proudly. And I've always, ALWAYS gotten exceptional service with a smile at this wonderful Main Street business.

Keep it up, guys.

Posted by Carol
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 3, 2007 at 7:24 pm

I personally have always had exceptional service at Towne Center books. I too think that maybe someone there was having a bad day. With that said, I also shop at Borders and Wal-Mart. Each of these stores fill different needs of mine.
Why does "Tim" state the question "how tight is money in Kottinger Ranch?" I think it's presumptuous to assume that just because one lives in a particular area they must have endless streams of money. I have found people in town saying this about Ruby Hill residents and mind you, I am not a resident of either of these areas. And, even if someone is well off, what is wrong with getting a good deal on any particular good? Yes, there are times I pay more for good service, convenience, selection, etc. But, there are times I truly want the best deal possible. There is nothing wrong with that, no matter what income level you are.
In closing, I think there are times that one can have a bad experience at any store. There are always exceptions in any business. Hopefully most of the good experiences will outweigh the bad ones.

Posted by Janie
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Nov 19, 2007 at 6:32 pm

I moved to Pleasanton 10+ years ago....I tried to support this book store but everytime I went in there I was on my own to look for books and selections that I was interested in...why not go to a larger store with better prices when you are constantly snubbed at Towne Center Books? This is a store that I really tried to support but constantly felt like I was imposing on the person sitting behind the counter...I was never once asked if I needed help!!! My favorite is The Book Store, they might not always have what I'm looking for but they at least are friendly and offer suggestions!

Posted by Amy
a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

The Town Center Bookstore employees seem to me to be the introverted, quiet bookish types. I like that they don't do a big greeting query as soon as I walk in. I feel comfortable looking around and then I ask for help when I'm ready to. They're always pleasant and helpful when I ask. If Janie feels 'on her own' in there, then she hasn't asked for help. Why don't you ask, Janie?
Borders is soulless, and talk about not getting help! I have to hunt someone down wearing headphones who always seems to busy to stop.
I agree that the Town Center employeee could have answered the request for a discount more diplomatically. I can see where he was coming from, (we're a small independent store, we're trying to stay afloat, for that very reason we don't do discounts, that's what Wal-Mart is for, you should know that...)
If you are interested in supporting Town Center Books you pay their price, right? That's how you support them. If you offer to pay them less, you're not supporting them, you're hurting them. Where would they be if they gave everyone discount? Closed.
Then we could eventually be rid of all the mom and pop stores on Main Street. It would have all the chains, like the mall. The sterile, soul-less mall.

Posted by Paulette
a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 28, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I've always had a positive experience at that book store; however, the cost of keeping an independent bookstore in Pleasanton is paying a higher price for their books. I'm surprised that since they were having a special book party that they didn't offer the "book club" special to people buying the books that night - at least to people buying more than one book. They usually give a 10% percent discount to bookclub books. I think that would've gone a long way with people buying more than one book as far as PR. Maybe they will learn from this customer and consider that in the future. I know that I would, if I were them. I think if this person had asked the clerk if he could please just check this with the manager, she probably would've gotten a 10 percent discount. I'm just guessing here; but, I bet they would've.
We all know what it's like to be slighted by a clerk. Usually, they are the ones who are inexperienced. However, in my case, both the clerk and the manager were out to lunch. I had a clerk in Dublin Longs tell me that I couldn't use two manufacturer's coupons for 2 bottles of shampoo. She said I would have to get in the back of the long line to buy the second bottle! I've never had that happen in my life! Then, she called the manager; and, the manager said the same thing. I got really ticked off and probably won't go back there because of their ridiculous stance on this issue. I think it's bad business for owners or managers to not emphasize the gentle art of public relations when training their new clerks. I really doubt that the Longs chain has a policy that says you can't use two coupons for 2 separate items; but, the damage is already done. The clerk who overplays the "gatekeeper" role is generally the clerk who sends the customers out the door forever.
Depending on how much you value that store, the customer can turn things around if they take the time to climb up the chain of command, eventually getting your desired result. I have periodically stopped shopping at stores because of all sorts of reasons. When I found out that Target donated money to the anti-nurse and labor legislation that Schwarzenegger was backing, I stopped shopping there. I was peeved when I saw that they hired goodlooking men in front of Target working their charms on housewives to get them to sign their petitions getting these on the ballot. I asked one of the hunks how he got this job. The ones in front of one Target didn't say; but, one in front of another Target did. One of them told me that they were hired by a talent agency for this job. So... we all have reasons why we stop shopping somewhere. I didn't like Target's cheap manipulation of it's customers.
Boycotting is a means of taking back our power; the question is, what are we trying to accomplish when we do so? Do we want to put an independent book store out of business? I think in that case it would've made sense to talk to the manager or the owner. What is the advantage of having an independent bookstore? In this world of distributors who have an ever increasing ironclad hold on what is available at chain stores, do we want to kick the independents to the curb? Probably not.

Posted by Nancy Freedom
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 21, 2008 at 11:44 am

I think it was an isolated incident that someone was rude to you at Towne Center Books. They've always been most kind to me. I value the personal service I get there. They know more about books & can order anything available at a large franchise store. All the workers seem to read a great deal from their comments. They can help me pick gift books & they wrap them nicely for free. They give a free book after each time a customer buys 10.
Their programs are excellent -- book clubs & author talks announced on a monthly email calendar. Judy Wheeler, the owner, is a mature, professional bookwoman. She graciously serves refreshments at her programs.

Posted by Oliver Heaviside
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 2, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Oliver Heaviside is a registered user.

I run a small business and I get asked for lower prices all the time. All in all, I'm not a big fan of bending over backwards to support local businesses unless they earn the support. I work hard to earn my customers' support; I expect the same from merchants.

I grew up in a small town; one gets tired of hearing that 'No, they don't have it in stock, they can order it, 50% deposit, it'll take two weeks, no discount.' These days the quality of sales personnel in stores is poor to terrible. Most clerks don't even know how to count change, or have any idea of what customer service is, or even what products are in stock.

I went to Kolln Hardware a couple of times; was unimpressed. Nice old-timey place, but the service was erratic. True Value, up the road at Santa Rita and Valley, is good. But I buy most stuff online - better selection, virtually-instant delivery, good prices. Does this mean downtown Pleasanton will someday become all restaurants and such? It's okay with me....

Curmudegeonly Yours,

Posted by Haica
a resident of Ridgeview Commons
on Dec 28, 2009 at 11:41 pm

[Post removed -- off topic]

Posted by Oliver Heaviside
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

Oliver Heaviside is a registered user.

[Post removed -- off topic]

Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown
on May 10, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Tired of smug jerks,

Why do I get the idea you love Sarah Palin?

Posted by exactly right
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

Exactly right on comment. They need to get real.

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