I was at a wedding this past weekend; little did I know I would find inspiration for this week’s blog post. At dinner, between courses, my brother politely showed off his new watch, a birthday present from his girlfriend. We “oohed and aahed” at the thin gold link band and rectangular black face accented with gold markings.
Wrapped around his wrist, it looked like it was custom made with one specification: sleek.
His girlfriend told us about her watch buying experience. No, she didn’t purchase it online, or at a chain store jeweler. She bought it at a small jewelry store, part of the local community for years. She said, “It’s a mom and pop jewelry store that I love to go to.” (You gotta love word-of-mouth advertising.) She told me and everyone else at the table about the personal service she received from the owners—a married couple who take great pride in their business, their jewelry, and their relationship with their customers. All smiles, she talked of a no-pressure buy, and how the owners listened to her description of the watch that would make just the right gift.
Small independent retail stores, coined “mom and pop” shops in the early 1950’s, are a part of Americana. Through the decades, we’ve lost many—way too many to big business. But, many are still the bedrock of the local business community. Like the jewelry store, they offer convenience, and the owners offer intimate knowledge of their product and services, and personal attention. Visit their store more than once and chances are they know you by name. They offer a relationship if you want it, and just polite service if you don’t.
Large retail businesses like Home Depot and Sears—and lets not forget a little success story called Walmart—have volume discounts and inventory on their side. Those are popular draws. Forget relationships, though. Heck, they have an employee standing at the exit checking your bags against the items on your receipt. Where’s the trust? And, they don’t care what your name is. Where’s the love?
If you are a mom and pop shop, you always have the opportunity to create the personal buying experience for your customer. Take on those relationships. Capitalize on them. Offer the kind of service that makes your customer want to talk about you at a wedding. While bigger stores have advantages, they can never, ever replace personal connection.
Buffalo Wired, a “mom and pop” shop itself, focuses on working with “mom and pop” shops for both web services and IT services as well. Our knowledge and expertise is the reason our small business customers choose us and continue to be impressed with our customer service. Find out for yourself and contact us!