Wehr's Take: Learning From the Corner Store
Do you remember going to your local corner store or hardware shop as a kid? The bell on the front door would announce your arrival, as the store manager or shop assistant appeared behind the counter to warmly welcome you by name. No walking up and down aisles searching for items; simply hand over your shopping list and your goods would be gathered for you. If you had a question, they knew the answer. Why? Because it was their job! Customer service wasn't a catch phrase—it didn't have to be. That's just how things were. I miss those days.
I also remember the very first time I walked into one of those massive hardware mega-stores. My wife and I had just moved to Perth, Australia, and I needed to buy a few things for our new home. We had the little independent store around the corner, but on this particular occasion I decided to venture a little further afield to this "unbelievable place" that I had heard about. As I walked through the door of this handyman's paradise, the sheer scale of everything was almost overwhelming. I found myself strolling up and down each aisle, for no other reason than to take it all in. I was in a daze; I literally phoned my wife with excitement and to inform her that I could be here for a while.
My excitement was short-lived, however, as I struggled to find someone to assist me. Then when I did, I was even more shocked to discover that they were totally incapable of answering even the most basic of questions.
That's when I had the revelation: I don't want tens of thousands of items to overwhelm me, particularly when many of them are cheap no-name brands that will break the first time I use them. I just want good quality products and excellent customer service from someone who knows more about their chosen field than I do. In fact, I am prepared to pay extra for it, so I have tried to support the little independent hardware store ever since.