Stutter steps

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.

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3 thoughts on “Stutter steps

  1. Ron Fischer says:

    You cranky capitalist you… 😉

    Seriously: good move. There are a number of routers and firmware packs which support “for a fee” WiFi hot spots. If you have someone you rely on for IT support (your ISP) you may want to talk to them. They might host the spot if you split the fees.

  2. Joseph Zitt says:

    Ah, welcome to the world of the WiFi zombies. That’s a good move. Expect that the worst of them will raise a stink that you’re violating their inalienable rights, then disappear.

  3. You’d love having me for a customer. I’m the kind of guilt-haunted person who can’t use the bathroom at a McDonald’s without feeling as though I’d better buy at least some fries first. If I was using your WiFi daily you’d be selling me a book a day. Can’t imagine treating somebody’s business like a public library.

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