Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No Chair For You!

Recently my wife and I stopped off at one of the national chain bookstores while on our way back from running some errands in San Francisco. I'd brought my Netbook along and was going to do some web browsing since I didn't really need anything. The bookstore had a cafe but we'd just had lunch and I didn't want anything. I noticed signs by the cafe tables that said they were for customers of the cafe only and that there were chairs throughout the store. This seemed like a reasonable way of doing things so I set out to find some place to sit.

The bookstore had two floors and we'd come in on the second. I found several places on both floors where there was room for the comfortable chairs generally found in these kinds of places but there wasn't a single one anywhere in the store. I did locate a handful of hard wooden chairs though, all of which were occupied. I eventually ended up finding a place out of the way where I could sit on the floor and do my web browsing. On the plus side I was able to hook up to a free wireless access point from an adjacent business.

The store in question was in a nice mall, but was located close to some fairly run down neighborhoods. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the store manager(s) felt that they needed to discourage people from loitering to avoid potential problems. I'd only been in the store a couple of times before and hadn't been looking for a chair so I don't know how long this had been going on.

My observations are as follows...
  1. At least fill the empty places that should have seating with merchandise so it is less obvious that you don't want people hanging around
  2. If you aren't going to provide comfortable chairs and you don't have extra merchandise than at least provide enough uncomfortable chairs. The store wasn't even all that busy at the time
  3. Being located near a business with free wireless Internet takes some of the pain out of sitting on a hard concrete floor with a very thin layer of carpeting laid on top

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