Christian Bookselling: “the best job I have ever done” – Andrew Lacey, GLO

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My thanks to Andrew Lacey of GLO Bookshop for this thoughtful follow up to his previous response to my cry of despair over the chaos at STL:

To clarify several points. 

1. When I say I’ve worked with a number of other companies, I mean five other retail companies over 30 years, from supermarkets to sportwear. I arrived in the Christian book trade some five years ago. So I have seen some pretty poor service and inept systems management. And I can assure you that, overall, I was very impressed by the general standards in the book trade supply chain when I arrived (Orca excepted….!). And STL were certainly were showing the way.

2. Yes, there has been six months of problems, and I don’t make light of them lightly (if you see what I mean). But I do think that, overall, the attitude of the people at STL has been remarkably open & contrite. I have seen similar problems on a number of occasions(and have, regretfully, also been involved in inflicting similarly ill-tested systems on long-suffering end-users). They are not easy to solve, and I’m sure if STL could have resolved them six months ago, they would have done so.

3. The idea of a boycott did make my mind leap to a mental picture of myself standing at STL on a picket line. As my kids would say to me, ‘Too far, Dad, that’s just too far’. I’m sorry if I have trivialised what is to all of us a serious matter, and will think a bit more carefully before hitting that fatal ‘Submit Comment’ button the next time……

4. While I don’t agree with the idea of a boycott, we should all be assessing our supply chain. One of the reasons why I enjoy being an independent bookseller is that we can assess the best distributor to place orders- looking at margin, availability & delivery. And at GLO, we are certainly doing that, and our proportion of business has markedly changed in the last six months. And, if STL are worth their salt, they will come back fighting to regain that market share – hopefully enticing us with good offers, good service, and resolution of the issues they are facing. And, yes, they need to take advantage of offers to get good information about what is happening at the sharp end.

5. And, finally, if I seem to make light of all this at times, perhaps it’s because I am (still) hugely enjoying myself in this trade. After years of bringing in lorry loads of milk crates in the Scottish sleet at 6.00am, and contending with drunk/smashed/agressive yobbos when trying to close the shop at 9.55pm, I think this is the best job I have ever done. It may be pretty busy, it may have its frustration, but it is a privilege to be able to do it. I work with a great team, I get a lot of job satisfaction, and I really look forward to going to work each morning…..In my previous job, I would have been too exhausted to even think about ‘blogging’!

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3 thoughts on “Christian Bookselling: “the best job I have ever done” – Andrew Lacey, GLO

  1. Pingback: Online Christian Bookstore | Christian Books Discount

  2. Andrew,

    Like Phil, I too want to thank you for your thoughtful reply – I also want to tell you not to stop going too far! I am an advocate of the sublime ridiculous, so please don’t ever stop.

    Yes I did take your piece a bit too much to heart and I want to take this time to heartily apologise for that and any upset that may have caused you.

    I am not trying to make an excuse here in the following but I am trying to explain where I am coming from on this issue personally.

    You see I too love my job, like you I had other jobs prior to bookselling that were not nearly so fulfilling and were at times fraught – even dealing with being made unemployed due to redundancy back in the early 90’s.
    Bookselling for me is not just a career but a vocation and labour of love – very much so the religious books side of it, and in the last year or so the investment in this is a serious personal commitment and act of faith that came with no few hurdles just in the stepping up.
    But it is therefore also one that for me carries intense personal financial risk as sole owner/manager with no other backers or financers, so the STLD issue is one that is pretty big for me as the issues it brings are costly at a time when I cannot easily face the cost and more importantly the losses on a number of fronts that they seem to be bringing.

    Like you I have intense personal experience of ill-tested and non compliant systems and the nightmare they can cause and the time they can take to resolve – however I know that in the one I had the most personal dealings with (and all ex-spck managers and staff will emote on this one!) the problems in relation to customer outward facing were minimised pretty quickly by finding new/old ways of doing things or work arounds – yes the headache for the company was still major, in fact even more major for the work arounds!, but the adage we went with is ‘the customer is king’ and i’m sorry but I don’t feel like even a viscount (even without the mint and biscuit filling!), let alone King.

    Oh don’t get me wrong I am sure they are working on resolving it and making the system work as they need it to and it should, of course they don’t want the problems anymore than we do, and of course they would like them resolved – I just think sometimes you have to think outside a box and sometimes you have to do things that come with a real hit, and I am not sure that STLD have necesarily always done this – but I could well be wrong as I can only judge how it appears to me.

    As to the open and contrite – i think this is one we probably just see differently.
    It might well be our past work experiences that condition this, but in the wonderful words of my 11yr old niece to me the other day, ‘Colour me Cynical!’ ( and try though I might I cannot possibly put the right inflection on that to do it the justice it deserves when coming from a preteen with attitude!).
    However I willingly praise and endorse the STLD customer services team, amongst some others, and their commitment and effort, honesty and hardwork in what have been fraught times all round. Indeed what they are paid probably isn’t enough.

    Anyway again I want to thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to respond – indeed for taking the time to put down your feelings and thoughts – they are important (even if they dont agree with my own ) and I hope that you can forgive me for my response.
    Diversity of thoughts is always a good thing – and please don’t stop with the humour because I have to admit, it sort of was pretty funny.

  3. Hi Melanie- thanks for your reply, and I assure you I’m not at all upset! I do appreciate there is ‘independent’ like our shop – run as a trust – and that ‘independent’ – like yourself – with a huge personal commitment & involvement carries many more burdens.

    Keep up the good work- in these situations, we ALL need to keep pushing for improvements from our friends at STL…..!

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