Friday, June 3, 2011
Darling you look wonderful!
I am in a strange mood this morning...
I love me a little craft store, the cheesier the better. When I was young we didn't have them, the closest you could get was a hobby shop and not every town had one. We had a drug store with two long isles full of office supplies and odds and ends that rocked my world. I can still remember neon stickers, that brown glue with the rubber cap, twine, markers, rubber bands and really fat crayons that smelled like heaven.
As a grown up there are the usual suspects in every town, the big box craft stores (you know who they are) where you can find all the made in China shiny-and-pretty you could imagine. I have been sucked in last minute for red glitter, double sticky tape or a tri-fold for my sons school project. It isn't as fun as it was when I was a kid, it is a little bit of an overload for me now,a little too much plastic in one place.
I long for the good old days when there were still down towns full of Mom-and-Pop places; a shop that just fixes watches, a place that only sells fishing tackle and bait, a real bakery where you can find cookies and cakes still finished with whip cream, and a candy shop where the owner knew you just had a filling and wouldn't let you buy sugar-babies.
Tangerine is meant to be one of those places where the owner knows your name and that your daughter lost her first tooth last week. When I order something new I know which customers will love it, I know who to call when I find rhinestone buttons, and I know just who to invite to special gatherings. My customers know a great deal about my personal life and I enjoy listening to all their stories.
Tangerine is a tiny store and things get a little dusty sometimes. You won't find anything practical here but you will always find something to make you smile. I choose my products carefully because I don't have a corporate budget, I look for great deals to please my customers pocket books, and I look for irresistible trinkets to tickle their funny bone.
Today a new box store came to town, I went in with my coupon to buy chip wood boxes for a class I am giving and to check out the competition. Once again I was disappointed, there were rows of colorful product, hundreds of this thing and that, and a loud speaker to announce who was next to be helped by a human to process their order.
How did it come to this? When did people stop caring about who they gave their money too? When did people start thinking that the person who mispronounced your name printed at the bottom of your sales slip cared if you were really happy with your purchases?
In this economy every penny counts, every purchase is important, and every person deserves sincere customer service. It may not be popular or a corporate-success-model to care less about your bottom line and more about the people who you serve who are responsible for the success of your business.
I hang a sign on my door letting my clients know I am picking my son up from school or running down to the hardware store for another paintbrush or home with the flu. I write my cell phone number down, they can call me, I will rush back for them, they get it, they understand.
I don't live in a small town but I operate a small town business, I pretend it's 1953and I own a little hat and glove shop, and my ladies come in after tea to gossip, shop and to be told how pretty they look, "Darling you look wonderful" because they do. It feeds them, it feeds me, and it feels right.
There are stressful days, days I am crabby, days I am worried that the big-boys will take over the world and shops like mine will be instinct, then there are days when a regular customer will come in and tell me that her husband got a new job and they are going to the Grand Canyon for summer vacation, and do I have anymore of those Buddha boards for the road trip. The best part is before she leaves she says "I love this store it feels like it's my store" I tell her it is and I mean it. Then its all worth it all over again.
I will not be a tycoon anytime soon, I may not have a television commercial or really great branding gurus. Instead I will be here, at Tangerine, keeping it real and doing my best to hold onto some old ideas of what business should look like.