Successful retailing is about making a human connection with every customer. It is easier said than done. I spend a lot of time getting to know retailers. Most have the desire to do this, but much to their chagrin, they don’t quite master it.
I attended a new retail store’s grand opening this past Friday night and it reminded me why I love retail. This couple has mastered the art of retail and creating the human connection with each customer.
The new store is called Fount. Jacki and Phillip own this shop. It is their fourth location with two more stores coming in Atlanta and Dallas. I remember when they opened their first store in the Short North in Columbus, They had won a contest in Cleveland where they are from. For whatever reason, the High St. store closed. I was thrilled to see they are back and better than ever.
Grand Opening Fun.
Many retailers open their new stores without much fanfare. It is almost like an afterthought to do something fun for grand opening. Not Fount, they are different. They sent email invitations to their opening party that took place on Friday night from 5 pm-9 pm. My husband came along to see what I was so excited about. I felt like I was attending a party at their house. Each guest was treated like VIPs and like you were personal friends.
FOUNT was founded in 2014 by husband and wife creative team Phillip and Jackie Wachter, and born out of their desire to craft beautiful and lasting leather bags. They use the finest ethically sourced leather and materials available to craft classic American heritage goods that can be carried by your side for years to come.
They had pizza, margaritas, beer, and different desserts. Fun music playing in the background. The store looked amazing. Jackie and Phillip were there. Phillip was leading the craft activities out front and the line was down the street! What a brilliant idea to allow each attendee to make a leather craft (for free!) and take a little something away that has the Fount logo on it. The line continued throughout the evening. People ate, drank, and were having fun (including us!). They offered a 15% discount and customers were buying. I bought a gorgeous scarf. Every time I wear it, I will remember this fun event.
I chuckled with Phillip that he was actually training hundreds of people to want to work at their factory in Cleveland making leather goods! The crafts included leather bookmarks that you could add your initials to and a small leather wallet that I will use to hold business cards. Operationally, this event was masterfully executed. They had the supplies prepped in advance and the experience was seamless to customers.
Man’s Best Friend.
One of my favorite things retailers do is have a “store dog”. Jackie and Phillip brought their sweet French Bulldog to the event and she was just delightful to be around. They have a beautiful collection of leather dog collars, leashes, and poop bags. Perfect for man’s best friend.
While we were waiting for the line outside to go down, we walked into Banana Republic. I wanted my husband to see their new fashion apparel. There were 3 associates working. One at the cash wrap, one on the men’s side, and one on the women’s side. My husband and I both tried things on. He liked a few things, but none were compelling him to make a purchase. Then Yirm went into action. He wanted my husband to try on their new golf pants. The fit said slim. My husband immediately said no. Yirm didn’t give up.
He made eye contact with me and said, “Trust me, these are great pants”. So I suggested Vic go ahead and try them. He wanted navy and they only had the pants in tan, but Yirm offered to order the pants if he liked them. So Vic went back to the fitting room, for the second time, to try on Yirm’s recommendation. Sure enough, Vic LOVED the pants. He not only bought the tan, but he also ordered the navy. If Yirm hadn’t connected with us and recommended a great item, we would have left without buying anything. The store wasn’t busy. The associates are not on commission. But Yirm made that human connection with us and we were along for the ride.
Ask Customers for What You Want.
Toward the end of the transaction, Yirm let us know a survey would be coming our way and asked us to take it as a favor. One of the impressive things Yirm did was add, “If you think I did a good job, would you give me a 9 or 10?”. You know what we said, right? We said, “OF COURSE we will!” Yirm did a great job from start to finish. When he asked for a personal favor, it was the least we could do for him.
We told Yirm about the fun activities happening at Fount and he commented that he was closing so wouldn’t be able to walk over and make a wallet. When Vic and I left the store, we decided we should make him one and bring it back over. So we went back in line and told Philip about this amazing young retailer and he helped us make a perfect piece for him. Then we went back to Banana Republic and gave it to him.
You Just Never Know.
When we found Yirm in the store, we gave him the wallet. He was stunned and told us he had just gotten back from LA and had lost his wallet. I loved how this all came full circle. He connected with us, we bought from him and we got to give him something that I know he will treasure and share the story with others.
He touched us and we touched him. This is the retail human connection. The survey came today and we completed it giving him all 10’s. I am not sure how many people we will tell about Yirm, but for the past 24 hours, he made me smile just thinking about our experience with him.
Let’s Wrap This Up.
Are you a retailer? Are you looking to create human connections that bring customers back again and again? Running Great Stores is here to help you do just that. Visit http://www.runninggreatstores.com and look around. Then let’s chat.
Always in your Corner,