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Shopping for the holidays

27 December, 2006 (17:52) | General

I went to one of my favorite small town local gift stores for some holiday shopping and again I am reminded how interesting and bizarre this season is. It is the sort of store where the owners want everyone watched and not particularly in a covert way. I find this is often the case in holiday gift stores. It comes from folks who have a fear of retailing, a sense that customers are there to rip you off, where folks can be a bit uneasy that any customers should walk in. But even more so in this store, especially if you bring your children with you. Almost everything they set up for the Holidays is incredibly decorated to delight the kids. The moving dolls, figurines and lights… but unfortunately children truly frighten them.

I picked up about $300 worth of stuff; bric-a-brac, kitchen items and these very cool miniatures, with just a couple of items on sale. Not the kind of deep discounting you’d find in the bigger stores, but I’m feeling pretty smug supporting my local store. As I picked up the sale items the sales staff said, “you know they won’t wrap the sale items” I suggested that it would be silly not to wrap these few items after having spent so much with them and for so many years. They just looked knowingly at each other as I waltzed downstairs with my arms full of goods. The owners were downstairs and they knew what I wanted. They were prepared to hold their ground. “We don’t wrap the sale items.” So I asked them not to wrap the bulk of the gifts and to just wrap the pieces on sale and one other piece instead. This would have reduced their work considerably. The owners not being moved by this gesture declared, “If I do this for you, I’ll have to do it for everyone”!

Our town consists of only 1000 people. Even if you include everyone from the remaining connecting towns you’ve only raised it to 2,500. Assuming that everyone man, woman and child shopped there… everyone is still not a lot of people.

It was similar last year as well. They started a new sales promotion, I’m sure something they saw in a retailer monthly… a frequent buyers card. Unfortunately, their card was the size of a license plate. I said “I can’t carry this around, how about if you keep it here for me”. Bug eyed they retorted, “if I do this for you, I’ll have to do it for everyone!” I offered to buy them a card file holder that would have held everyone’s card in the county but they were fixed.

I love tradition, even holiday shopping tradition. I can’t wait for next year. I’m never sure what new anti-consumer measure they’ve put in place for the year, but it is a store that makes me feel like the holidays are truly here. A place where consistency replaces the need for customer service. The familiar bustle of neighbors and folks we’ve known for years is still comforting to me in the sort of way that the smell of that special fruit cake reminds me that my wonderful aunt is not far behind.

Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year, Mark




Comment from dick van den berg
Time: January 1, 2007, 4:33 pm

mr golden
we thank you plus your dad for this outstanding company
we were visiting my daughter in cooperstown, this was asuprise trip. your staff – assisted us and made us feel more than welcome with detailed information
i am a very old w/color paint . my 2007 goal is to paint koi
you + your inventive products should give me a real adventure
will keep you posted

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