I’ve been going to the store since it opened in Chicago in the early 90s. I’ve been consigning books and zines there for well over a decade. As of last week I’m no longer allowed through the doors.
I rub lots of people the wrong way. I say what I think at the wrong times, when it’s not what’s being asked. I’m persistent in an annoying way. I have tunnel vision about my work and sometimes don’t take into account others’ delicate sensibilities.
Dealing with bookstores as an independent writer/publisher has been an uphill battle for all the years I’ve done it. Most so-called independent shops don’t want to deal with books that aren’t stocked at an Ingram warehouse. I’ve had fights with owners who champion this or that cause in public but won’t do the extra work needed to support people working outside established channels. It’s frustrating but part of the price of the freedom I enjoy by doing things my own way.
Then there are the shops that survive via the consignment model. This is an archaic way of doing business that only works when all parties trust one another. Unfortunately the vast majority who try it fall behind on payouts or are just a disorganized mess. If you’re a one-person operation, chasing after these characters for nickels and dimes stops being worth the trouble.
The store that banned me last week has functioned via consignment for over thirty years. Up until last year I trusted them and they seemed okay with me. Sometimes I’d lose track and come check on stock too often, but for the most part, it was every three-four months. Some time last year they decided to switch to an email queue in order, they said, to streamline the process. A consignor puts their name in the queue and waits. And waits. And waits. They’ve changed how often one can line up as they’ve gone. First it was three months, then, four, now, who knows? I’ll never find out.
What got me tossed is checking back a month after the four month period. At seven months without payment, I stopped into the store and was met with outright hate. A couple days later an email arrived detailing my death sentence. I had no intention of ever going there again. Finally, we were on the same page.
It feels lousy to be treated this way. Maybe I deserve it, maybe not. There are bars, restaurants, and a couple other bookstores I don’t go into and haven’t in years, for various reasons. Now I have another to add to the list.
I don’t go places I’m not welcome. This is another door shut in my face.
I’m doing Saturday and Sunday gallery hours at Buena Vista Projects, 1-5pm. October 1st at 5pm, Mute Duo will play an improvised set surrounded by the work I made. I’m looking forward to it. You should be there.