Dear Abby: Man visits our store for hours, bothers staff and customers

The retiree wastes people’s time every day with his relentless chatter, but there’s no nice way to tell him to get out and stay out.

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DEAR ABBY: 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. — UNPLEASANT SITUATION

DEAR UNPLEASANT: You seem to be a compassionate person. Check out what services are available for seniors in your area. Then explain to the customer that while you appreciate his business, you and your employees have work to do, limited time to do it and cannot socialize with him. Then suggest some places where he can spend time, volunteer, etc.

DEAR READERS: A group of distinguished psychiatrists, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), needs help from some of you. They are seeking to understand how faith identity — being spiritual, religious, spiritual but not religious, or neither religious nor spiritual — positively or negatively impacts mental health and well-being. This link takes you to an online survey, which will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The questions address the following topics:

  • Do you identify as religious, spiritual, both or neither?
  • What religious and/or spiritual practices do you participate in, if any?
  • What are your current levels of anxiety, and what is your current mood?

Readers, your input is important. Understanding your beliefs, including how they affect your mental health, could benefit individuals who need help and haven’t gotten it. To participate in this ANONYMOUS survey, you must be 18 years of age or older.

Thank you in advance for helping them out. They are a wonderful, caring group of doctors. — Love, ABBY

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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