'Basil Fawlty of booksellers' dubbed Britain's grumpiest shopkeeper told to cheer up - or else
Britain's grumpiest shopkeeper has been told to cheer-up or clear off.
And Steve Bloom, dubbed “the Basil Fawlty of booksellers”, has admitted: “I am not really a people person.”
He added: “I say what I think, I don’t butter my parsnips.”
The bookseller has come under fire for charging customers 50p just to walk through the door of his shop in a quaint market town.
One shocked customer was even called “a pain in the a***” for not paying the fee.
The owner’s attitude has led to a deluge of complaints to councillors.
But Mr Bloom, 63, said: “I don’t believe I am very rude, maybe low to medium rude if pushed.
“I have stuck by my policy of asking for 50p from customers but the reality is that I don’t actually take it.
“The 50p charge is me making sure they are serious about coming into my shop to buy something, not just standing for 10 minutes reading a book to pass the time as some people do.”
He added: “There are times when I’ve wondered whether it’s the right thing to do but I stand by it.”
Hawes Parish Council in North Yorks has received more than 20 complaints about the owner of the Bloomindales book store.
But Mr Bloom said: “I don’t go out of my way to offend anyone, I’m actually not that sort of person at all.
“I’m a bit like Jeremy Clarkson I suppose, he just says what he think is right and I do that too, although I wouldn’t compare myself to him much.”
One letter to the council was sent from Dr Colin Bates of Market Drayton, Shropshire, who wrote: “We entered the shop at 5.15pm and asked whether he was still open, to be told ‘yes if we knew what we were looking for.’
“I explained and was shown where the section was. We were told the admission charge was 50p which would be returned if we bought something; this we ignored.
“About 30 seconds after we started looking we were told we were both a ‘pain in the arse.’
“I simply said I was not going to be talked to like that and walked out.”
Lt Colonel (Retired) DJ Walker (MBE) also wrote to the council to say: “I had been in the shop two or three minutes when a little man appeared out of nowhere and without any form of salutation snapped: ‘Have you bought books here before? If not you need to pay 50 pence which is refundable if you buy something.
“I looked at my wife, placed the book back on the shelf and walked out.
"I am sure a lesser mortal would have paid up without giving the matter a second thought.”
Mr Bloom said: “I have to say that I regret telling the man he was a pain in the arse, I regretted it as soon as I said it.
"He arrived just as I was closing but I allowed him to go in and browse around but he ignored me completely when I asked for my 50p which didn’t help things at all.”
Cllr John Blackie has called on the shop owner to change his ways or leave.
“Mr Bloom trades from the town’s Market House, so he is a community tenant in a community building but he seems to be doing his best to undermine the town and its good reputation” he said.
“His manner towards his customers appears at time to have been quite extraordinary and difficult for many people in the town to understand.
Customers have been quick to post negative reviews about Bloomindales online.
Alison U wrote: “Visited Hawes for the weekend with family had a fabulous time until I entered the second hand book shop in the town centre.
"Rude male shop owner asked me for 50 pence to browse unless I purchased something from him. I thought he was joking.
"I started to look at postcards and he told me to stop as I had not paid and that I must ask permission to look through postcards. Disgusting, rude treatment.
"Other people in the shop recoiled in embarrassment and I promptly left.
"Fortunately there are lots of friendly, lovely shops in Hawes and I bought some books and maps in another shop. Amazed this man is in business at all.”
Peter B110 wrote: “Stopped in Hawes and among other places went into the ‘bookshop’ in the Market Hall.
"My wife and I got a very rude reception; the miserable little man who runs it (he’s been there for donkey’s years) wanted to charge us an entrance fee!
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"Now that’s a first.....50p each, refundable on making a purchase. We thought he was ‘having us on’; he wasn’t!
"We exchanged a few words, told him we have never paid to go into a bookshop yet and weren’t going to start now.”
And another disgruntled shopper, Mark wrote: “The guy charges 50p to enter the book shop?
"He should advertise the fact outside the store and save people wasting their time going in.
"I went to the shop next door and browsed for free and then purchased three books.”
One Hawes local said: “Steve does things his own way but as a businessman myself I can’t see how the Basil Fawlty approach works for him, it’s rude and it just gets people’s backs up.
“He has a good business, a good range of stock but he needs to reign in the rudeness because his reputation for what he’s actually good at is going down the toilet.”
Market House caretaker Les Bartle said Mr Bloom had made himself unpopular in the community.
He said: “Sadly Steve just doesn’t know when to stop and it’s really causing a problem now.
“I’ve seen so many rows. On one occasion he got into a stand-off with a guy who refused to pay his 50p and the chap refused to leave when Steve ordered him out.
“Steve picked up his phone and called the police, it was a crazy situation to have police called to a little bookshop in a quit town like this.
“I’ve seen another customer throw Steve’s dinner over him, he has a unique talent for winding people up.”