Rules for Retailers

**As most of my friends know, I have been reading (obsessively) books about “The New Business” paradigm for well over a year now.  Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Alan Webber, Chris Brogan, among the luminaries.

I am telling you this, right now, at the start of this post, only because it might help explain (a little) the rant that is about to ensue.*

Here is the short version:

I am totally done with ignorant, and/or grouchy retailers.  Done.  I don’t have to put up with you any more.

I don’t.


Because there are PLENTY of businesses that sell the exact same thing you do, that have stellar customer service.

(End of short version.)

Case Study 1 – The Tea Chest

I’m into tea these days.  Had a great experience at Teavana in Rochester, bought a lot of stuff in that store, came home, went on line, ordered more.

Learned there was a tea store in Corning and went in for a look-see.  The store was empty.  No customers.  I roamed around, and the woman there (owner??) asked if I needed help.  I said it was my first time; I was looking around.  She left me alone.  I asked about the rooibos.  She answered me, distractedly.

I went to pay for the rooibos, and noticed chocolates.  I asked about those.  Did she make them?  “Some, “ she said.  “The others were from “other places.” (what other places, I wondered.)

I would have bought chocolates, I would have, but was so put off by her attitude that I just bought the 2 oz of tea I had already placed on the counter (and regretted), and left.

I will never go in there again.

I felt like I was in her way.  I felt like a pest.  I was the only one in her store.  (And I totally understand why I was the only one in her store!)

As a seller of tea, she sucked.

As a seller of chocolates, she sucked.

As a human being in contact with another human being, she sucked.

The Tea Chest in Corning, NY?  Fail.  I will be surprised if she is in business this time next year. FTW (for the win)

Case Study #2

The Soulful Cup, Corning, NY

One barista there is great: smiley, helpful, makes a good drink.

But there is another barista there, who, when I walk in and see her behind the bar, I think twice about how much I really want a coffee, and consider walking out.

Today that barista was behind the bar.  Again, I was the only customer. No lines.  No chaos.  No frenzy.  Just me and her.  So I smile my biggest smile and order my drink.  No smile back.  No how’s-it-goin’.  No nothing.  Here’s your drink.  Money changes hands. Thanks.

Would it have killed her to smile, engage me in some light banter?

I have an espresso machine at home that pulls killer shots and steams milk great.

I have a Starbucks card that auto re-loads every time my balance falls below $10.

Starbucks — FTW

Sirena Espresso Maker—FTW

Soulful Cup—Fail

Case Study #3 – The Merchantile

Still on the hunt for good chocolates, I go into the Merchantile.  There is a great selection of truffles. I order a box of six and start picking the ones I want.  The woman behind the counter, puts my first 2 selections into the box and then the phone rings.  She leaves me (a real live person, standing there in the process of buying expensive chocolates,) to answer the phone!

The person on the phone was, in her mind, more important than I was, in that moment.

Tip for Retailers: The person on the phone might be a potential customer.  The person in front of you is an actual customer.  But here’s the thing: The actual customer who gets dissed for the potential customer, will never be back. FTW

The Merchantile in Corning, NY  – Fail.

So here’s the deal, retailers.  I will try to buy locally, but say I buy a thousand dollars worth of stuff at your store in the course of a year.

When I walk into your store, I would like you to smile at me, say hi, treat me as someone who supports your business, maybe treat me especially nicely, knowing that I am a good customer.

But if I walk in and you barely acknowledge my existence because you have a headache or just had a fight with your partner, or whatever, I’m not coming back.  Why?

Because I don’t have to!

I can get ignored online, in my pajamas, and have my stuff here the very next day AND I don’t have to put up with your shit.


End of rant.  Thanks for playing.

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