As I was sitting on my porch last night and realize I needed to go to the store in the morning, I thought of the two stores that I’ve been impressed with since moving to a rule area. So this is a tale of two stores. The first store is a grocery store which is in the center of a small town and it seems that the same store chain is in many small and rural areas. It is not a superstore, a club storre or warehouse. IT has its own meat market and features fresh vegetables every day. Although the selection is not that of the superstore it seems they have a good selection of products that I would normally need. The checkout stands are small but they use the code reader to process my groceries. The shopping baskets are smaller than most stores I’ve gone to in the city. What really stands out is that after they bag the groceries they take the groceries out to your vehicle and load the groceries into the vehicle for you. During my first visits I tried to tell the young man or woman bagging my groceries that they do not have to help me to my car. Then I was informed by those young people that its store policy that’s they take the groceries to my car and they would get into trouble if they do not do so. Once that I got comfortable to that idea I tried tip the young man or woman. Once again I was informed that they were not allowed to take tips. In the beginning I found it awkward to have help to my car and have my groceries place in my car by store personnel, usually the young person that baged my groceries. But then after few visits I realized that was the charm of going to the store. I had been used to going to large superstores who had trouble keeping up with the many shoppers so much that many times at bagged my own groceries. And I was always suspicious of any one trying to help me to my car. The small store chain, even though it is small and that a little more for my groceries. has made me get at ease with someone help me to my car and loading my groceries. It felt like I fell back in time where store owners were very concerned about customer service and kept a personal touch apart of the way they did their business.
The second store was an auto parts store that had been in a very small town for over 65 years. It was located in a dated building which looked like an old gas station located next to the railroad track. During my first visit to the store and Ifound out that the owner had started working at that auto parts store at the age of 14. He was about to turn 66 years old when I spoke to him. Unlike the big auto part stores in the city this store seemed to be back in time. It even had a rocking chair in the middle of the storm for customers to sit down and talk whether they were buying a part are not. The the store had two bays in the back filled with wooden racks, car parts and car lifts. The mechanic a the young man carrying a rag in his pocket and a stained baseball cap with a fishing hook on the bill the cap. While I was there another customer has looking for part for very old vehicle. The owners thought for a minute and went back behind the counter to the storage area and came back with the piece the customers looking for. The owner stated that he had had that part for 40 years. The owner was very busy in local charities and social clubs. With pictures of youth baseball teams his store had sponsored. I found myself going to the store because of the feeling of being back in time where customer service was a personal issue with the owner. Several months later as I went to the store I overheard a customer talking about the store closing. Shocked I went to the owner who confirmed that the store was closing. After 65 years of business in this small town the growth of the area had brought several large auto part change stores close enough to take most of the business away. I told the owner that I felt sad that he was closing the store. He and his store were part of the history of the area and I’m sure many people who had trusted his advice and counted upon his store to take care of their auto needs felt the same way. He stated that he could not keep up with the prices of the large chain stores and therefore he was time to retire and close the shop. I asked him why one of his family members was not taking over the shop while he retired. He stated he asks them to and they were not interested in doing so, the larger auto part stores made it impossible for his store to continue to exist.
This story of two stores, one continuing to exist and one going out of business, I’m sure is going on across the nation. I believe that personalize customer service still continues to exist. I have found it in expensive steak restaurants from our nation’s capital to a small stakehouse in a small village on the Pacific Coast highway. As our population continues to grow and the ability of a business to keep up with new demand seems to make things impersonal, I hope that personalized customer service comes back. Whether it is the continued use of a doorman at a building, a business, a hotel or a bagger taking your groceries to your car at a grocery store. The two stores that I mentioned contributed to the quality of life that I enjoy. I will continue touse the grocery store and I will miss the auto parts store.