Thursday, January 7, 2010

Big Box Retailer Refers Customers To Indie Bookshop, Earth Shifts on Its Axis

Hard evidence of the existence of a parallel universe has recently surfaced, delighting physicists, confounding naysayers, and blowing the minds of independent book shop lovers.

Tesco, the British super-supermarket chain that sells, amongst other non-grocery items, books, is, at its Wirral store in Liverpool, promoting the indie bookshop across the street in an effort to improve community relations.

Through signage in its book department, Tesco is advising its customers that:

“For a wider selection of titles and book-buying advice, why not cross the road to Lingham’s, where the specialist staff would love to help you.”

Lingham’s has faced tough competition from the corporate behemoth, particularly over sales of best-selling titles.

Partly out of frustration, Lingham’s manager, Eleanor Davies, wrote to the chief executive of Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy, suggesting that the store could allow them to advertise their products.

Mrs Davies said the idea came after seeing an interview with Sir Terry in which he admitted a certain amount of guilt over the threat his supermarket chain posed to smaller shops.

Mrs Davies said: “I just sent an email and said to him ‘put your money where your mouth is.’

“We are constantly having problems being undercut by Tesco. They sell some mainstream books far cheaper than we ever could.

“But we’re not just a shop – we have poetry evenings, book clubs and readings from authors.”

In her email to Sir Terry, she said: “In Tesco over the road, a lot of the books we sell are going for substantially less than half the RRP. We cannot begin to compete with this.

“The books stocked in Tesco are always on the best-seller list and I realise you have to make a profit just as we do. However – and here is my suggestion – there are plenty of books we stock which you would never have on your shelves. So I would like to suggest that, in order to show that you don't want to decimate local businesses, why don't you allow us to advertise above the books you are selling?”

Mrs Davies - who shall henceforth be known as The Little Lioness of Liverpool - said: “Tesco emailed back almost immediately saying they agreed with us, and that they would talk to the local manager about putting up a sign.”

A spokesman for Tesco said the decision to agree to put up the sign was a local one made at store level.

He said: “It shows that local traders can survive side-by-side with Tesco, and that we take responsibility to the local community seriously.”

Can it be that firm lingams in the face of hard competition are all that's necessary to keep the corporate stiffs from violating indie bookshops?

Full story at the Liverpool Daily Post.

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