Customer Service the way it was meant to be

The answer to the question is: Littleton, New Hampshire.

The question… of course… is: Where can you find one of the few remaining examples of customer service the way it should be?

Tigg and I were on a trip recently. Went up to the Franconia Notch region of New Hampshire. I had been up there before… in days long ago, and as recently as this past June. Saw the Old Man before he fell years ago… that time saw the mountain now that he’s gone.

On this particular trip, the goal was to get the boy onto Loon Mountain. Justin and a friend of his were with us, and they were going to hit the slopes and do some snowboarding. Since we weren’t sure of what the weather was actually going to bring (varying reports had promised sun, clouds, rain, sleet and snow… all proved accurate… sort of), we let them go to Loon on Thursday for part of the day, and then brought them over to Cannon Mountain on Friday.

The plans for Friday left Tigg and I with an afternoon free for lunch and some browsing. We decided to head about seven exits up route 93 and spend some time in the town of Littleton.

Now I’ll bring you a tour guide of New Hampshire soon… one that captures some feelings and thoughts spanning from Lincoln to Littleton. I’ll tell you about the continuing Canasta Masta world tour and a pair of moose. Perhaps I’ll even tell you about this particular day, our delicious lunch at the Italian Oasis Restaurant & Brewery, and being tempted by a used Taylor 355-CE at Northern Lights Music.

But for now… this story isn’t about that. It’s about some amazing customer service and a wonderful store called The Village Book Store. (Located at 81 Main Street in Littleton, you can find them on the web.)

We had walked in intending a quick browse. Tigg loves to read… finishing off far more books every year than I touch… but she usually knows what she wants and isn’t big on spending time in book stores. On the other hand, I could lose the better part of a few days meandering up and down aisles without a single title, author or subject having occurred to me before I walked through the door.

I happened to spot a paperback copy of a book by Linda Ellerbee… Take Big Bites. One of the problems I have that creates the lack of knowing what I’m looking for is that I often forget to write names down when I do want them. I like Ellerbee’s stuff… alot. And so it goes was a fantastic effort. I had heard about this book before, but totally forgot about it. So, of course, I picked it up.

As we finished our visit and prepared to leave, I placed two books on the counter. A man… who’s name I should have learned… picked up the Ellerbee book and without looking at anything else said “I think I can help you out a bit here.”

He walked over to the store’s bargain section, paused for barely a second, and pulled the hardcover edition off of the shelf. “Here we go,” he said, returning to the counter. “Hardcover edition and it’s going to save you about six dollars.” He flipped through the pages to make sure everything looked ok and then asked if I still wanted the paperback edition.

I was stunned.

I can’t tell you the contents of my desk right now. (Well… that’s a lie… but it is all set up in my own confusing system of filing. You know… a disaster area of a mess… but when I know what I want, I know right where it is.) But this guy saw a title of a book… one that isn’t exactly rolling out of anyone’s mouth… and immediately knew where their copy of a used edition was. For me, that was impressive.

Beyond that he was polite and friendly… made conversation with us without holding us up… and just generally made us feel as though our visit to the store had been the best thing to happen to him all day.

I would have gladly spent a few hours in that store. (The guy in the music section of the store looked exactly like Big John Wallace… but I never got to approach him… so I don’t know.) And along the road in Littleton there were other locations to browse, and 12-string guitars to sigh over… boys to pick up… moose to see. Had to move on.

But I will be back. The Village Book Store will see me again. And I hope that one day you get a chance to wander through the doors of the store and find out what it means to be a valued customer.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at