Like I said, stock day is a big day - not least because of the voluminous amounts of heavy books you have to get from the pallets at the front of the shop to the tables all over the rest of the shop. By voluminous, I mean lots. Big big lots and then some more on top of that. The stock is delivered at 7:30 a.m. and has to be unpacked and hidden away from the delicate eyes of the public by 9 a.m. at the latest. It's well over a thousand books we have to move by hand in an hour and a half. How do you do that? How is it possible???
Well, sneaking off with about twenty Woolworths trolleys helps enormously.
You see, we don't have a delivery entrance where those big ugly pallets can be slipped in secretly and unpacked under cover so that the public is never forced to confront the ugly reality of restocking. No. The big ugly pallets are rolled up on a pallet jack and unceremoniously dumped out front of the store to sit there like big ugly blocks of crap, four foot by four foot by four foot, jamming up the doorway and threatening to injure the unwary customer which would of course, force up the company's public liability coverage. If you have ever worked retail, you will know that this is the biggest disaster that can possibly happen. Bigger than North Korea and their pesky nukular bombs. Bigger than that game the Western military are still getting beat at - Where's Osama? Bigger even than Susan Boyle's nervous breakdown.
When I began the job, they told me that the best way to do this crazy little thing called restocking is to get the books stacked away under the tables as fast as you can and then simply take them out again, a few at a time, at your leisure and put them wherever it is that you've decided they should go.
Now, this is a beautiful dream of course and if only all the things in life that sound simple actually were.
But the fact is, as difficult as it is to carry over a thousand books around a very big shop, there is something even more difficult and that is bending over to put them on the floor and then pushing them under a table at the same time as you try to hold up the damn plastic tablecloth with your shoulder. And just in case you're not tired and sore just from thinking about that, then there is the part where you have to reverse the process and take the mongrel bloody things out again!
But I am smart! What is the use of being modest about it? Some of us have it and some of us don't. I solved the problem of the bending down while carrying twenty kilos of books and then having to do it all again backwards in a way that is efficient, fun and cost effective.
What we now do is get about twenty shopping trolleys and one by one, park them right beside the pallet we're unloading, stacking the books straight off the pallets and into the trolley. When we are done, one of us runs the trolley to the back of the shop and out through a door which leads to a magic land known as the Old IGA Supermarket.
It's an enormous space dotted with the things from all over the shopping centre that are no longer useful. It's almost spooky. Correction - there are times when it is definitely spooky. Princess Bookaholic and her fertile imagination have been known to get decidedly uncomfortable out there. The base of the old supermarket aisles are still there, stretching away to the back of the mostly empty space - they make it look like an abandoned bowling alley. Old wiring hangs down from the roof and unwanted shop fittings from hairdressers and such like lie about in untidy heaps. If you thought the decor for Dollar Hair looked cheap before, you ought to see the sad pile of busted green and black neon signs and excess navel rings that lies just beyond the back door of the Incidental Bookshop.
Ours is the only business that opens onto the old supermarketand we use it to our advantage in every way we can. The very best use we have found for it is to stow trolley loads of unpacked books in there till we get around to packing them properly on the tables. It reduces the lifting and carrying to a very manageable level and in return, all it takes is a little wheeling and dealing and a lot of hiding.
Hiding, I hear you ask? What on earth would we need to hide from?
Well, for a start the Woolworths managers who very unreasonably think that if we need trolleys to run our business we ought to buy our own. Let me tell you, it's not easy taking twenty trolleys in the front door of a shop on the sly...
... to be continued