Thursday, December 27, 2007

You Can Stick Your Sales....

Woooooooooooo, it's Boxing Day so let's go and shop! It's been a good 40 hours since I got back from the shops and my brain can't compute! I must hit the high streets and look at all the things I don't really want or need, that are on sale at half the price they might be if I don't buy them now!
Look how happy I am, can you see my smiling face? No? I must be tying my shoelace up in this picture then, cos everyone loves shopping don't they.

No no, it's the emotion of not being able to shop on Xmas day. Why don't they make the shops open, so then I wouldn't be forced to spend 40 hours with my family.

I'm not a fan of shops being open on Boxing Day. Mainly, I feel it's unfair on the people who have to work on this day. Let's take Bookshops...
Firstly, these are people in retail and so don't get paid very much anyway, so it's a kind of tax on the poor. People in better paid jobs, like publishing for example (!), get about 2 weeks off over xmas.
Secondly, the argument that people who work in shops know what they've let themselves in for (shops open over xmas so if you work in a shop it's your own fault), is nuts. I started in bookselling in 1984, we didn't open on Sundays and the idea that we would work later than 7pm was frowned upon. Up till 4 years ago we didn't open on Boxing Day. Up till 2 years ago we didn't have 24 hour shifts in December (something that was introduced because the shop was too busy to restock/tidy during the day). I'm no luddite but let's just say you work as a teacher and suddenly it's decided that you have to work during the holidays and over xmas. You wouldn't be too happy about that would you? Unfortunately this is what happened to opening hours in shops. Having a sale on Boxing Day means that after the shops close on Xmas Eve people have to stay to put the sale in (not for time and a half or double time as well), so it isn't just the time that the stores are open that there are people there.
Yes, temps do cover a lot of these hours(usually for a very basic wage), but as a full time bookseller you're expected to 'be flexible' over xmas. Which means if the Directors (who are sitting on their fat ar....mchairs at home) decide that your shop needs to stay open until 11pm and open at 7am, then you have to do it.
What'll happen soon is that the pressure will start on the publishers to open straight after xmas in order to supply the shops, then the distributors and so on. Anyone who works in publishing won't like that very much I imagine. I don't imagine that's what you thought you'd let yourself into when you got the job.
I think that having recovery shifts (working when the shop's closed to tidy/restock) is necessary and I also think that extending opening hours is reasonable. But by accepting so readily that shops should open on Boxing Day is quite dangerous. It's only one step away from saying 'let's open on Christmas day'. And i'm not sure too many people would want that (until it happens).
Rant Over

I had a lovely Christmas, me. Katie and I stayed in London, and spent the day itself eating, playing with our presents, and watching sentimental films on TV.
Below is the shining star of all my presents. It's a Steepletone retro record player, and Katie has won a few million brownie points for this one.

Now, if you happened to go to Waterstone's on Charing Cross Road in the mid-late nineties, you would have probably heard some rather obscure music being piped through the shop. This was mainly down to Mr Alister Babb, ably assisted by yours truly. It was at that time that we were both very much into Lounge music and the mighty Moog synthesizer. We trawled charity shops and made up some amazing compilation tapes that we eagerly brought into the shop and played, hooting with laughter at the most obscure recordings that we found.
Sadly my record player packed in a few years ago and my rather large stack of LPs have remained unplayed since. So imagine my delight at being able to bring the super sensational sound of the swinging sixties back into the living room. Two of my favourites are below. The first is Studio2stereo climax. Harry Roche's version of Hawaii Five O is awesome.

But the king of my collection has to be the great Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass. There are so many things I could say about how much I enjoy these albums and choosing one paricular LP as his best is very hard. But S.R.O. is a perfect Alpert. 'Flamingo', 'Mexican Road Race', 'Mame' are all on here. The highlight has to be 'Beanbag' or as most people know it the It's a Knockout themetune. Pure joy!

I've kept my love for lounge very quiet until now. It'll certainly be a surprise to Tim. It may confuse some people who know me, as I also enjoy Doom and Thrash Metal, Guitar based Indie and 2-tone amongst other genres.
I now need to get a few mixtapes ready for opening day at the shop!


Steerforth said...
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June said...

Bravo Simon, As someone who also works in retail (for Curry's - Waterstones wouldn't have me - although they do stock my book thankfully!) - I applaud everything that you say. Whoever decided that shops should open on Boxing Day should be forced to work it themselves unpaid every year until they retire - how long do you think they would last - about 30 seconds ? !