Someone recently asked me why I thought quilt shops were closing everywhere. I don't purport to be some retail expert but as a designer for my own company, it is something that crosses my mind.
I've thought about this recently because several incidents have brought the thought together for me. I should start off with saying that I love Aveda products. I don't normally wear make up so I wanted to look at the options. I need to get some because I will be taping an episode of Sew It All tv in a few weeks. Yikes!
It was a Saturday morning when I went into the Aveda store to get some makeup. There were two sales people and no customers at first. Then the female sales person walked across the hall to the cupcake shop and another customer came in. Another as in ONE. I sat down and the male sales person chirped on, "ok, just sit in the chair and I will be with you in a minute." He went to the entrance to look for his counterpart. She was no where to be found. He came back with a look of hesitation. "Um, can you come back another day? I can't find her and it is really busy being a Saturday and all." (He is not new. I have talked to him before and he is very comfortable with make up.)
Uh, what? I left.
Then last week I went to a favorite quilt shop, Pennington Quilt Works, and my experience was wonderful. They were all helpful and the ladies knew their quilt business.
Fast forward to yesterday when I visited a local shop, Heart Strings. Owner Carol Beder, always has a great attitude about the good days and bad days of being in retail business and she put some things in perspective between my good and poor retail experience.
Taking aside the many different things going on in our industry (that is part of another conversation - digital vs. printed, modern vs. traditional, etc.) and the economy, I think the simple things are sometimes forgotten. I know, easy for me to say because I am not at the retail level.
Carol is realistic in knowing that times will be tough but I think that she survives for different reasons:
1. Customer service. She chats and gets to know you. As cliche as it sounds, those first impressions make a difference. I think that it can help put people in a good mood and it leaves a lasting impression for future visits. She makes the customer feel welcome.
2. Passion. Customers can see the love that she has for her shop.
3. Inspiration. Try to give your customers an inspiring experience. Keep it fresh. Keep it unique. Give them something that they will want. I feel as though I am discovering a new treasure every time I visit.
4. Personality. Carol's unique displays are carefully curated.
I am not trying to be simplistic in saying that these things will cure all. Rather, I hope that these thoughts help you fly through the good and the bad times.