Dear Blake,

I’ve been in the retail business for 12 years; my husband and I own it. A customer moved here a few months ago. He’s retired and lives with his wife, daughter and grandchild. He’s bored and doesn’t want to be around his family, so he has started spending every day in our store, wasting our time.

He bothers customers with his stories and traps them for hours at a time. He has purchased some items, so he is buying from us. But I can tell he just wants a place to hang out. He is loud and intrudes into other people’s conversations when they are at the counters. He has also taken a liking to one employee who works Saturdays and has started spending four to five hours every Saturday coming in and trying to make conversation about anything.

I have never had to deal with this kind of customer. I don’t know how to tell him he can’t hang out at our store. He’s basically using us as an outlet to talk to people and keep himself out of his house. Please help. I want to say it in a nice way, but I think any way is going to hurt his feelings.

Signed, Georgette
From Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Dear Georgette,

This man probably has no idea what a nuisance he is. Don’t worry about hurting his feelings, preferably you should hurt him physically, if possible. Here are some options you should consider. If he continues to show up, have him sign a lease, and then charge him rent for taking up space. And as soon as he starts bothering customers, give him a 30 second notice, then evict him. Or, you can tell his family that he lives with, that he is secretly buying products to poison them, and they better keep him out of your store if they value their lives. This idea might work. Hire someone one to come in and pretend to rob the store, and tell the “thief” to warn him that if he comes back again to rob the store a second time and he’s there, the next place he’ll be loitering at will be the city morgue. But if you don’t have the heart to ask him to leave, then keep him busy. Assign him jobs around your store, focusing on heavy lifting… until he collapses or his back gives out. Also be sure and not pay him for his labor, so you won’t have to worry about worker’s comp. I hope this helps.