or, "I'm from the Chamber of Commerce, and I'm here to help you."
[Disclaimer: the problem described here has been resolved.]
Several weeks ago, Alan, our manager at the store, was reading the Chamber of Commerce's website and came across the page for the second annual "Next Big Idea," a "festival of discovery, invention, and innovation." On the page was a selection of science toys and kits, with the information that "if you can't find these items at Otowi Station, you can order them from our website."
Well, naturally, we'd want to sell the items--none of which we currently had in stock--but nobody at the chamber talked to us about them, nor indeed about the Next Big Idea. I asked Terry, our toy buyer, to see what she could do to bring in some of the toys in time for the festival. She said that with the vendors' minimums, she'd have to spend thousands.
Then Alan went back to the website and started "buying" toys. When it came time to check out, he was directed to [cue ominous "uh-oh" music] amazon.com. Well, I mean to tell you, all three of us were completely unhinged. I myself couldn't even speak, instead making some of those low, agitated tones that one normally associates with the chronically insane. The chamber is supposed to support local merchants, not direct business to the Great Satan. What the heck?
Terry began to probe a little more. ToyStew (not its real name) was the vendor of the toys on the website. She had never heard of the company. When she called the number for ToyStew on the Great Satan's webpage, she got somebody in Oregon. She asked about the toys and got a vague, evasive, desultory response. The person didn't seem to know a lot about the toys, although he agreed that the company did indeed sell them. Hmmmm.
Later that day, Terry got a call from one of her regular vendors, and asked offhandedly whether they had ever heard of ToyStew. The vendor said it was a Canadian company. When Terry told us that, we went bananas. Totally unavailable to reason. Not only had the chamber directed customers to amazon.com, but they were also directing customers out of the country. And in today's economic climate!
I was ready to get a two-by-four, go across the street to the chamber, and commence to beatin'. Instead, I took a deep, cleansing breath and left a friendly voicemail requesting that the director swing by the store the next day.
The director came over the next morning and asked what was up. Terry and I explained what we found on the website and what Terry had learned. From the look on his face, I guessed that the director obviously had no idea what was going on with the webpage. But he was determined to make it right. He said, "Let's make Otowi Station the official toy store of the Next Big Idea Festival!"
I thanked him and asked that he please be sure his staff talks to us first before putting anything involving us on the chamber's website.
Anyway, the website has been changed. I'm happier.
Otowi Station: your official toy store of the Next Big Idea festival.
P-doobie: your admirably nonviolent owner.
I need something to make me feel better.