A popular Sydney CBD bookstore has closed its doors to a dating coaching company which was letting its clients harass and attempt “pick up” techniques on unwitting customers.
Japanese-based retailer Kinokuniya, housed in The Galeries overlooking Town Hall, the Queen Victoria Building and George St, is a much-loved spot for tourists and locals alike.
“It has come to our attention that a dating coaching company has been using our store to give their clients practical experience, much to our dismay,” Kinokuniya management wrote on its social media pages on Friday afternoon.
“We apologise to any of our customers who have been approached in the store or had the negative experience of someone trying ‘pick-up’ techniques with them.
“And to anyone who has felt harassed we offer our deepest apologies. We have contacted the company we know is involved and requested they not enter the store again.”
The bookstore describes itself as a tranquil and unique “true booklover’s haven” in the heart of the city with an in-store gallery and one of Black Star Pastry’s cult-followed cafes.
Yesterday, it also issued a warning to any other “social coaching companies” considering its idyllic aisles as a training ground.
“Don’t come in,” the open letter from Kinokuniya management said.
“Our staff and security have all been made aware that this has been happening and are on the lookout for anyone who is receiving unsolicited and unwanted attention.
“Please do let a staff member know if you are approached in the store in a way that makes you uncomfortable.”
Writer Chloe Sargeant said she was contacted by the retailer after sharing her experience on Twitter last week in a post that was liked by hundreds of people.
She tweeted that a man had asked her for her “fave book of 2019” and any recommendations.
“So I said Clementine Ford’s ‘Fight Like A Girl’. He looked a bit flustered but persevered,” Ms Sargeant wrote.
“I’ll add that I’d seen him try the same thing to two different women before me. PUA (pick up artist) stuff is so grim.”
Other “harassed” customers have come forward since yesterday’s statement.
“This happened to me in this bookshop, three times,” Lara Belle shared on Twitter today.
“I haven’t been back to Kinokuniya since. I find being harassed and used as a practice target (and possibly filmed for later examination and feedback) absolutely horrendous and these guys are vile.”
She said the men had tried to start a conversation using the same line every time.
“Oh hello, I was just wondering if you can recommend a book?” Ms Belle recounted.
“The first guy was very confident and smooth. The other two were clearly nervous and ‘practising’. I walked out, I knew they were all watching me.”
The statement on Kinokuniya Sydney’s Facebook page has attracted thousands of comments.
The behaviour was labelled “disgusting”, “wrong”, “gross” and “super creepy and super unwanted”. Some questioned why you would approach people seeking out peace and quiet.
One man suggested lining the shelves with ‘Dating for Dummies’.
“Omg this happened to me and just thought it was some random moment,” Sydney woman Hilary Locke said.
“I’m so glad it’s been addressed and hope it gets nipped in the bud!
“It’s reassuring that it wasn’t just me in a way, but at the same time sad that others have had that experience while just browsing books.”
Ms Locke wrote that the man had tried to engage by using the books she was looking at.
“He was quite full on, and I had a convo with him but I was a bit weirded out,” she said.
“After the convo fizzled out I went to find my boyfriend, who was browsing elsewhere.”
Numerous other people have thanked the shop for putting its customers first.
The ABC spoke to Managing Director Kawai Yusuke who on Saturday said he had not yet received a response from the dating company.