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Moe's Books (Berkeley) Locks Me In, Then Gets Angry I Don't Leave
by Berkeley Resident
Friday Aug 2nd, 2013 12:43 AM
Doris Moskowitz, the owner of Moe's Books on Telegraph, claims that her store is declining because homeless people, but the fact is the store is declining because of the way customers and residents of the neighborhood are treated at that establishment. As a resident, I stop by Moe's for the occasional reading material. I went tonight to look if there was anything interested to take home to bed. Tonight, the store manager had locked the door prematurely before clearing out customers at closing. Astoundingly, the manager became irate for me not leaving despite the door being locked.
This is an account of tonight's stop at Moe's Books, on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley. After the call for the store to close, I walked to the free papers by the front door which was LOCKED, and thus was not able to open. I briefly stopped and looked at the papers, and the manager working the night shift yelled at me for not leaving. As he unlocked the door, he asked why I wasn't leaving. When I pointed it would have been impossible to leave until after he had unlocked the door, the manager became irate. Furthermore, after I left Moe's, the manager locked the door again, despite there being 2 other people in the store who just came down the stairs and needed to leave. I said he locked 2 other people in, and the manager became angrier. Furthermore, the manager was outraged that I had not purchased anything. There was a strong implication from the manager that I am homeless and have no valid business on Telegraph Ave, even though I am a resident and live within short walking distance of Moe's.

It was not my fault that Moe's didn't have anything I needed at the time, nor desired that was in my price range. Entering a store is not an obligation to buy. A bookstore cannot carry everything at all times, and as such some people are going to leave empty handed. In the first half of this year, from Moe's, I have purchased gardening books, The Moose that Roared by Keith Scott, an Isaac Asimov science-fact book, as well as the occasional MAD (Signet TPB), a few comic-book adventures, as well as Pogo books. I am not obligated to purchase a book every single time I go to Moe's, and it is unreasonable that a manager would make a fuss over a resident leaving without a purchase.

It was not my fault that the door was inexplicably locked before letting people out. I left the shelves with the graphic novels and comics as soon as the call for closing was made, then walked to the stairs, down the stairs, and I knew there were people behind me who needed to leave too. The door was locked, and there was no purpose for the Moe's Books manager to yell at me for not leaving, given that it would have not been reasonable to expect me to open the locked door. The attitude of the manager was inexplicably hostile, upset I wasn't leaving, even though I couldn't until after the door was unlocked. When I pointed out his anger was unwarranted, when I pointed out the door was locked, he just got so much more upset.

It is also not my fault Moe's is open til 10PM. If staff don't like people in the store till 10PM, then they need to change their store hours, and not hold a grudge on people such as myself who stop by at night. There were others in the store until closing as well, which is fairly typical.

Doris Moskowitz routinely appears at city council bemoaning the decline of her father's legacy, Moe's Books, a once famous bookstore. It is standard for Moskowitz and store staff to blame lack of customers and sales on homeless people in the area. However, their increasingly hostile attitude towards the poor blurs their judgement towards how they treat people who enter their store regardless of housing status, income, or social standing. Due to poor customer service, and negative attitude towards people in their store, Moe's is losing customers. It is a risk to shop at Moe's, of having to face hostility from staff. Moe's in becoming known as an angry bookstore.

Moe's is in a turbulent marketplace. Books, for the past 10 years, has been a challenging industry. Nationwide, bookstores are either downsizing to smaller locations, moving online, or closing. Even big chains with nationwide distribution are finding the market place of books to be very challenging. Ebooks, auction websites, and online retailers are cutting into the sales of standard retailers. Moe's has chosen not to adapt to the contemporary business of selling books. Given that much of the sales at Moe's are from used books, Moe's is particularly threatened by online competition.

Moe's would do best to retool its business plan. Moe's needs to stop portraying itself as being victimized by an unruly populace, who seek to torment and take advantage of their store. They are not losing business because they are mobbed by delinquents. They are losing business because they treat their customers like delinquents, and because they drape their store in tension. Moe's also needs to understand that they are losing business, because many stores are losing business in the field of selling books, especially those who are not changing with the contemporary market.

What should have been just another trip to a bookstore ended sourly, because the store manager of Moe's locked me in, then got angry I didn't leave. Moe's needs to stop thinking of itself as a store under siege, and instead it realize that it is a store mismanaged.
by miles
Friday Aug 2nd, 2013 8:32 AM
Aw boo hoo. Since it's clear you haven't been part of the daily grind of wage labor for some time, let me clue you in to a few things.

First, when it's time to shut the store, it's time to shut it. That means if there are straggling customers, they'll be locked in. This happens all the time: at the post office, at the bank, at the department store... so Moe's isn't the only place.

Second, the manager, like other workers, just wants to get away from work as soon as possible in order to be free of annoying customers and co-workers. That's only natural, since the alienation of wage labor stings bad enough when you're get paid, but it's magnified exponentially when you're off the clock and stuck in the shop. The manager wasn't getting paid to baby sit you or the other stragglers, and you were extending the time required for that person to be in the store without compensation.

In short, you were a hindrance to the much-needed end to a long work day. Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of a person just trying to get home (or wherever else they would like to be) -- anywhere else but WORK.
by Berkeley resident
Friday Aug 2nd, 2013 8:53 AM
Miles' reading comprehension is low. A manager yelled at me for not leaving, got angry I wasn't leaving, then unlocked the door. It is not that complicated to understand the ridiculousness of being accused of loitering, when the passage is locked.

Miles, maybe you can explain the logic of telling someone to leave through a door which is locked, then following that request by anger for the impossible task not being accomplished.

Miles is obviously unaware of the antagonism that Moe's Books has towards homeless and the activist community, as well as the People's Park community. This is not a "boo-hoo" story, and you Miles are not that radical.

Miles is obviously unaware that Moe's Books hostility towards the local community, for not being rich enough, for not being elite enough for its increasingly ostentatious tastes.

Miles is unaware of that Moe's supports (failed) attempts at a no-sit ordinance, which would effect all members of the community, local residents and the homeless, as there really are no benches in the area.

Indybay isn't about who is the more radical, or who is the most anarchist. If you don't like a news item, just ignore it. This is not a chat room, and it is always awkward when people start pointless childish fights on this site. Especially when the person starting the argument, Miles, misread the article and missed the point entirely.

If you are not into local Berkeley politics, Miles, then just ignore local Berkeley news. This isn't about world socialism, or the worker revolution to destroy the world-order. It was a simple local story, Miles... about simple local issues which pertains to Telegraph Avenue. It was a simple item from my perspective about the community atmosphere, which lately is becoming strained because certain business owners have an open hostility towards the people who live around their business.

Not everything here has to be about waving the black-flag, and yelling death to capitalism and ranting about wage-slavery. Or else this site becomes a mockery of itself. Screaming worker revolution theory at me is ridiculous, especially since my income is low - I am hardly the master-class.