I just received an email from one of our members, Susan Storm from Mayagems to say goodbye before she’s off overseas – time to spread her wings and rediscover herself after 2 difficult years.
Please read her blog when you have time, it is well written and from the heart, some of her words had me thinking….
When you get a chance visit http://www.travellingbead.blogspot.com/
“Tomorrow I close my shop forever. I inherited this shop as an STB – a Sexually Transmitted Business – D had a framing shop, I was a photographer, I fell madly in love with his fabulous biceps and smooth brown skin, and that he was funny, and so different from the powerful movers and shakers I’d been involved with previously. So he moved in with his ironing board and his David Bowie music, and we started making our own history. In hindsight, I could say he mounted, and I was framed, but … well … c’est la vie! We had some great times together.”
Her story is well told and had me reminiscing about my own experiences in my previous business….
I started and owned a gas appliance repair business in Brookvale, we also had some retail items at our factory which provided much needed parts to technicians in our industry as well as to the “weekend warriors” who came in on the weekends trying to do their own repairs without paying for a trained service person to repair their items.
These weekend warriors usually rushed in with a plastic bag full of parts hoping that you had just the thing they needed to repair their item. They were normally in a hurry, embarrassed they really didn’t know what they were looking for and usually in a bad mood. (Probably because they couldn’t remember how to put it all back together again)
Susan’s comments reminded me of some of these customers.
“But being in retail was a whole different ball game. No matter my degrees, my world experiences, my background, for a lot of first time customers I was just a probably-illiterate someone to pander to their spare time. A while ago, someone asked what I did for a living, and I began to explain that I had a bead gallery and I made …. I’d already lost his interest. A mere shopkeeper, he sniffed, not much between the ears here”
My business had begun stocking a very particular style of brass fitting for a different type of gas-these items were something I felt passionate about as we were a very seasonal business that made money 4-5 months of the year in winter.
These special parts were something I sourced to be able to have income all year round, vital for cash flow.
My service men were upset with me, as they didn’t want to learn about these brass fittings, they already knew enough they told me and didn’t want to learn any thing else!
So, I told my servicemen I would become the expert on these parts, and teach the women in the office about them so they could sell them over the counter, as these parts were what people asked for at the factory not in the field.
It worked a treat!
We started to sell lots of these fittings and all was well with the world, cash flow started to even out.
One time, a customer walked in when a service technician had also come in to pick up his paperwork.
The customer asked the technician for help with brass fittings, the technician was now embarrassed as he couldn’t help the customer as said to him ” wait, I’ll get the expert”- you should have seen the customers face when he saw the technician asking me to help him!
Not only did I understand what he was looking for, I had the part already in my hand and showed him how to put it all together.
Not that amazing really but it was to the customer- and to many others as well.
It’s wrong to make snap judgements about those over the counter from you, regardless of their sex, education and so many other levels we judge from. We as consumers also know we can get judged as soon as we walk into a store- the judging goes sadly both ways….
I’ll leave the last words to Susan…
“When I enter a shop now, I greet the owner, and I make chatty small talk, and I say thanks, and bye, when I leave.”