The cult-fave Kinokuniya bookstore in Sydney has issued an open letter to customers after a “dating coaching company” was found to be using the store to give clients “practical experience” for their pick-up techniques.

“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,” the apology began.

“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.”

Kinokuniya has confirmed that they have contacted the pick-up artist company in question and have asked them not to return to the premises, making it abundantly clear to any of these “coaching” companies that they are not welcome in the store.

The management team also assured customers that staff and security at the Sydney store in The Galeries shopping centre have been made aware of the issue, and are on high alert for this sort of behaviour.

“We became aware of it in increments. Occasionally a staff member would notice something that looked a hell of a lot like an aggressive “hit” going on and sort of lurk to see if their instinct was correct,” an employee named Bonita (whose name has been changed for privacy reasons) told Pedestrian.TV. “Every now and again a female customer would complain on Twitter, or (less frequently) to staff in person. (I’m happy to say that nobody held us responsible, they just wanted to make us aware.)”

Bonita also explained how staff eventually found out about coaching sessions after one of the alleged coaches let slip that they were using the store for their practical workshops.

“[He] said “I have to go, I’m actually in here coaching someone” and after he left this staff member and I looked at one another and said “what the fuck sort of COACHING could you be doing in here?” I followed him around for a bit and, sure enough.”

Victims of the inappropriate and frankly disgusting behaviour have voiced their complaints of men trying to use classic “pickup” lines on them while they were minding their own business, perusing the shelves of the cult-fave bookstore.

“It was really gross. I was in the literary section and I’d been standing there for a while, and saw this guy come up to different women,” Sydney woman Chloe told Pedestrian.TV.”He eventually came up to me and was like, “Sorry to bother you, but I really need a book recommendation, I’ve been trying to get back into reading.””

Thankfully, Chloe was already aware of these sort of bookstore pickup tactics, made popular in Neil Strass’ book The Game. Immediately feeling like something was “off” during the encounter, Chloe was able to quickly deflect the unwanted and completely unwarranted attention by recommending particularly feminist titles.

“I was like, kay, I’m going to throw him a curveball. I was like, oh the best book I read last year was Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford,” Chloe said.

Chloe, who asserts that she’s “actually here for [her] own purposes, not to be recommending books to random people” claims she watched the man attempt the same tactic on other women in the store before eventually calling it quits half an hour later.

“We watched him for a really long time, he just did circles around women, then about half an hour later he left. Didn’t tell the bookstore at the time because I didn’t realise it was a pattern.”

Although she didn’t report the incident to the bookstore at the time, a Kinokuniya employee later reached out to her after she shared her story on Twitter. Thankfully, the employee was “really professional, making sure [Chloe] was okay.”

The unnamed employee who spoke to Chloe also asserted that the “pick up artists” in question have been using the store for a while, claiming staff have been “trying to get them out for ages.”

A similar sentiment was shared by Bonita, who claims the incidents regularly occurred during Saturday shifts.

“We thought they were isolated incidents though, sort of just random choices of venue made on a whim by various fuckboys. But the people who work Saturdays started noticing suss behaviour happening every week, and eventually started recognising the same key group of people – many of whom, I’m revolted to say, were women.”

After condemning the awful behaviour in their lengthy apology, Kinokuniya Sydney reminded customers that the store is a place for “discussion” and that they “don’t want to discourage organic communications from taking place.”

However, there’s a big difference from organically meeting your new best friend or love-interest while on the hunt for your next good read, and being specifically targeted by these “pick-up artists” who literally needed to pay someone to teach them how to talk to women.

Thankfully, Kinokuniya acted quickly and professionally to resolve the issue and keep the store as a safe space for book lovers to enjoy.

The only thing anyone should be trying to pick up at a bookstore is a good read. Don’t be gross.

Image: Getty Images