'Bookseller from hell' admits he was wrong to insult customer
A second-hand bookshop owner who has sparked more than 20 complaints about his rudeness has admitted he was wrong to call a customer a "pain in the arse".
Steve Bloom, who runs Bloomindales high in the Yorkshire Dales, has been criticised for asking visitors for a 50p entry fee, with the chairman of Hawes Parish Council branding him "the bookseller from hell".
Mr Bloom, describing himself as "not really a people person", said the council had given the issue more importance than it deserved.
The 63-year-old admitted he should not have called a customer, who went on to complain about his welcome to the council, "a pain in the arse".
At his home near Settle, North Yorkshire, he said: "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."
He explained his policy of asking customers for 50p was a way of finding out whether they were serious or not, and that he did not actually take the money.
He said: "There are times when I've wondered whether it's the right thing to do, but I stand by it."
Parish councillors in Hawes have discussed the shop five times since 2013, and chairman John Blackie said the "dreadfully rude and offensive" bookseller was a discredit to the market town.
Mr Blackie said he has received more than 20 complaints from visitors in the past four years about the shop and Mr Bloom's 50p entry fee for browsers.
Mr Blackie, 68, said: "I'm afraid we have the bookseller from hell.
"He seems to have a strategy unlike anybody else's.
"He charges 50p, people object and he is very rude to them. Yet he feels that improves his business."
He added: "The trouble is, he is doing a disservice to the other traders, to the reputation of the town which is very much a friendly town. We welcome people to come a visit us."
Mr Blackie said Mr Bloom seemed to enjoy the notoriety, and did not seem bothered by criticism online.
One comment on the Yell website said other shoppers "recoiled in embarrassment" when the reviewer was asked to leave while browsing postcards, having refused to pay 50p.
Another gave only one star out of five, and said that he and his wife received a very rude reception and they were asked to pay the entry fee, returnable on purchase of a book.
The bookshop is based in Hawes Market House, a charity - and although complaints have been passed on to the building's trustees, there has been no change Mr Blackie said.
The parish council chairman said he will visit Mr Bloom again and urge him to be polite.
"He can see the great difficulties, the upset that he causes in the local community," Mr Blackie said.
"He might be better off trying a charm offensive. If you charm them more and offend them less, you might have a business even better than it is now, and we can all live happily ever after."
Mr Blackie will urge the Market House Trustees to put pressure on Mr Bloom to mend his ways, or warn him he could be thrown out.