The store’s fluorescent lighting, white walls, white shelves and white floor tiles render the space rather clinical and cold. I found it eerily reminiscent of Oregon State Hospital (The setting of ‘One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ ). But don’t let that put you off because the grim interior is redeemed by great customer service, and it is rarely crowded. They also have parking space, which is small but adequate.
What’s on sale ?
There isn’t much to distinguish this outlet from other bookstores in terms of stock. There are several dusty old architecture and design books which remain forever unsold. Piano learners take note - John Thompson’s Piano series is available.
I really like the staff here - there’s usually just two of them. They left me alone when I said I knew what I was looking for and asked to be called if I needed help.
...except for one particular security guard
On my most recent visit I took photos ( With permission) and one guard followed me around as relentlessly as the Witch-king of Angmar pursued Frodo . This was however an isolated incident.
Easy browsing - miracle bookshelves
In most bookshops, the titles on the bottommost shelves can only be read by a seasoned yogi who can withstand the strain of being bent over double whilst craning their neck at an odd angle.
This store has several shelves, designed so that all the book spines can be read whilst standing up. If you’re like me and browse every title on a bookshelf, you will appreciate this greatly. For now it is just the fiction books that are housed in these miracle shelves but hopefully it will catch on.
Greeting cards featuring Sri Lankan wildlife photography for Rs 20/=
There are blank greeting cards featuring beautiful photos of Sri Lanka - leopards, elephants, Kandyan dancers, deer, street vendors and inexplicably, a German Shepherd puppy.
(The pup is adorable but the breed is well...German. Fun fact: Hitler loved German Shepherds)
I think it is advisable to buy one of these inexpensive cards and write your own words as opposed to a costly but generic Hallmark-style card with an uninspired cringe inducing verse.
Excellent Customer Service
The cashiers genuinely want to help. I asked one to search the computerized database about a dozen times and he was polite and patient throughout.
One book was in stock at the other VYB branches. He contacted them immediately to confirm, and took down my contact details. I didn’t expect to hear back but he called the very next day saying that the book was ready to be picked up.This sort of service is very rare. At other stores I have to tell the staff to take down my contact number and search their counter for pen and paper myself to write it down.
So although the sprawling new Sarasavi bookshop is a walking distance from here, I always visit this store first because of the customer service.
If you want to leisurely look around and find a book, you can, but if you’re pressed for time, ask the staff to search their database.