Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Business design/philosophy II

The second thing I want Needle Nicely to be remembered for is Approachability/Service.  My training was as a librarian.  The first principle of librarianship is that of Service.  Give people what they want. This carries over to retail sales.  People tend to walk out empty-handed when they don't feel welcomed.  I try to acknowledge every person who comes in the shop.  Sometimes people jump like they've been goosed, they are so surprised to be noticed. 

But approachability is a two-way street.  I've been told that when I travel in France, I should say "bon jour" when I enter a shop and "Au revoir"or "merci" when I leave.  Oh, that people would do that here in the states.  There really is a responsibility on the part of the customer.  Accept it or only shop in "big box stores" where customer service is non-existent. 

When someone came into Needle Nicely last week, her first comment on entering the shop was "Quite a come-down from your last place."  This was not exactly charming her way into my affections, especially since we have been at this location 6 years and feel grateful to still be in business after Hurricane Wilma took the roof.  She isn't knocking herself out to keep me in business.   I inquired:  (We've been in 4 locations in Vero in our 30 years.)  "To which are you referring?" (Not my most diplomatic response, but knowing she hasn't been around for 6 years, is she a customer?)  She eventually left empty-handed after more than 30 minutes that included her discussing her purchases at other shops.  She is definitely not a customer of mine and is no one I can count on to keep me in business.  And her name is not in MY memory bank.

I believe in knowing my customers.  I'm lucky, because I have a knack for remembering details.  So, if I have chatted with you previously, I usually remember your name and your project, where you are from,  and perhaps, more personal details about your life.  Sometimes, it isn't good to remember your projects because there are some that never seem to be finished.  Of course, I am haunted by the memory of a Mrs. Gibson who was a Needle Nicely customer in Vero Beach in the '90s.  She looked very much like one of our North Carolina customers and I consistently called her by the wrong name.  One day I asked her (rhetorically) why I always mistook her name.  She (being mid-80s and outspoken) retorted that obviously I was stupid.  I had no response to that!!


  1. I think the service is great! Especially long distance! And, I don't remember many of the details of your current location, but I do remember being surrounded by canvases in need of fibers, a few hours of stitching and lots of creativity! That and the warm atmosphere make me look forward to visiting again soon! Loving your philosophy!

  2. Ok, you made me laugh, Mary Agnes. Here's hoping tomorrow's customers are happy to be there with you. I know I would be if I ever got to visit. A real shop is a treat for those of us who live far away from large cities.