Three months ago, when we opened the bookstore, free WiFi access was part of our keen business strategy. It would serve as a loss leader, bringing in potential customers who would use the WiFi, then buy books and coffee.
Trouble is, it hasn’t worked out that way. For every laptop gypsy who grasped the concept — that if one enjoys and appreciates a quiet, comfortable place with free WiFi, one should support that place — there were a dozen who were happy to come in, suck up the WiFi for a few hours, then head out the door without buying anything. One clown developed a whole cheeseball comedy routine where she would march up to the counter, fluff a few bags as though considering a purchase, then head back to a table and another hour of grinding.
I really don’t want to be the kind of store owner who prowls around snarling “Those tables are for customers!” I did a lot of that last week, and I really didn’t enjoy it. But I also don’t want to go bust paying utility costs for a bunch of moochers. Yesterday, I changed the WiFi password and put out flyers announcing that Internet access would only be available for a flat fee. Will this affect my traffic and sales? Let’s see.
I hope I don’t alienate the good customers. I’ve met some great people at this place. But the twerps who treated me as somebody to get over on sure have left a bad taste in my mouth.