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’!