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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 28-Aug-06


Monday 28-Aug-06 

Mom'n'Pop service

Supermarkets, hypermarkets -- shops are so big these days. Prices, choice and convenience have elbowed out many of the mom-and-pop stores of my childhood. It was nice last Summer going to Rome where the privately-owned corner shop is still the norm.

My parents were, literally, 'Mom and Pop' as they ran an aptly-named general stores in a transitional period during which my father was also training as a teacher. Supplying a whole neighborhood, they sold everything from bread to beer.

In two years they doubled the turnover of the shop by applying principles they had learned in their previous businesses. And they didn't do it on price competition -- they couldn't: they would often pay more wholesale than the local supermarket's loss-leader retail prices.

Rather cleverly, in an area where money was short and credit was long, they refused to give credit to anyone. Although this meant they lost some customers, they gained many more as people who had maxed out their credit at other stores flocked to the only store where they would not have to service their debt first. They even had customers thanking them for keeping them out of debt.

My parents knew then what many business still don't realize today: It's not just about understanding customer needs -- you also have to understand how they think and behave.

Their other secret was to get to know their customers personally. So whenever Mrs Jones came in for her loaf, my mother would ask her about her children, her dog and her back problem. And maybe sell her some dog food or aspirins, too. The shop was a social institution where buying and friendly chatter happened together.

And there's the rub. We crave attention, acceptance and approval, and will reciprocate to those who show interest in our lives. People aren't stupid and recognize computerized faking. You can't beat good old-fashioned human service.

Your comments

Amazing read, best thing is that all of what is said is so true and reflects what a good shop should do.

-- vincent

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