Bookstore Cafe Ethnographic Observation Essay

1169 Words Mar 16th, 2014 5 Pages
TITLE: OBSERVATION AT A POPULAR BOOKSTORE CAFÉ

Over the past few years, commercial spaces have become areas for multifunction activities. Along with the availability of gourmet coffee, food, ample seating, and free WIFI bookstore cafes have welcomed a clientele that blends leisure, social and work related activities. In this context, a local popular Barnes and Noble bookstore cafe served as the perfect environment to perform a field observation for this assignment and to explore customer behaviors and reasons for patronizing this particular establishment. Nestled in a busy Shopping Center on the east side of a traffic jammed Central Avenue, in Westchester County, Barnes and Noble bookstore is surrounded by a movie
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Patrons like myself stood in line scanning the café for empty tables and available seats. The arrangement of the tables in this area allowed for more seating flexibility and appeared to lower social boundaries between customers while encouraging interaction between members of cliques and individual patrons. Armed with my laptop and cappuccino, my observations occurred from an empty table in the center of the café. I felt at ease in this setting, as there were many more customers like myself, sitting alone reading, typing away on their laptops, writing in yellow pads or studying. Being in plain sight in a public environment, I assumed the role of a participant observer despite feeling a little unsure about the landscape of this assignment and insecure about my field note taking capabilities. As I settled in, I spotted a few neighboring customers who were about to get comfortable in their seats. A young man sitting nearby with his laptop cover still closed, stated, ”I come here quite often. WIFI is free, the service is great, I plug my earphones and in an hour I get a lot more work done here than at home with the kids”. Another regular customer stated, “This is where people come in between shopping, or like myself to get some work done after running some errands”. When I asked a few customers about policies regarding reading printed material without purchasing them, and if there were any time limits for occupying the tables, I learned about a

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