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.


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.