Here's What It Takes to Be the Favorite Customer at One of America's Favorite Local Businesses Lessons from a tugboat captain, a Spanish professor, and a book-loving dog mom.
"Our store is known for its very unique layout. Inside is a maze of 32 rooms, all with different genres of books, connected by a series of staircases and hallways. To enter the store, you walk through a city-block-long courtyard which, during warmer months, is a garden. For a number of years, one of our most special customers, Stephanie, would visit and bring her dog Harvey. He would wait patiently in the courtyard as she picked up her books and had a few laughs with staff. When it was time for Harvey to pass, we made a nice spot in a flower bed in our courtyard to bury his ashes. Now Stephanie brings her new puppy Mabel to the store." — Store manager Michael Babcock
"Our business is in a former church, right in the center of our little coastal Alaskan town. Many of our customers went to Sunday school in the church, and a handful were married here before it was converted to a coffeehouse and art gallery in 1993. But our standout customer is Mike Brittain. Mike has been a boat captain in our harbor for nearly 50 years. He comes in almost every morning, and is incredibly kind, quick-
witted, and warm. He knows everybody's dog and has many trained to do tricks. On mornings Mike is out captaining, we usually have a sticky note by the register that says, 'Mike B won't be in today, but he'll be back tomorrow.'" — Owners Micheley Kowalski and Michael Stewart
New Haven, Connecticut
"We have mismatched antique dressers and mirrors as styling stations, vintage dentist office furniture in the waiting area, tons of pop culture artwork to gaze at, and even a shop dog named Boba who jumps on your lap while you're being shampooed. We're a place where people from all walks of life can come and be treated with respect. But our most loyal customer ever is Mercedes. She's been coming in every Friday at 11 a.m. for a shampoo and blowout for four years. She's from Spain and is a professor at Yale, where she teaches Spanish, and she is the sweetest woman. She adores disco-era music — which we play for her regularly — and particularly loves 'Dancing Queen' by Abba." – Owner Jason Bunce