Originally Posted by Elfwreck
Definitely. The advantage they have is being able to select stock based on local demand.
For regular book buyers, good store operators can and do engage the customer. You don't have to be a genius to know that somebody who makes a habit of popping in the same weekday at the same time is somebody worth engaging.
And ambiance matters; unless the store is swamped, taking a few seconds to actually converse (beyond canned queries) with the customer helps a lot. A comment about the book, the weather, sports, whatever... Just an acknowledgement the customer isn't just a wallet with legs.