Monday, 7 October 2013

Shop Local

Shop Local.

It's a phrase and sentiment I hear often. Show your support for our small, community businesses. Spend your money in shops and stores that are owned and operated by members of our community, who in turn, support local groups through donations, sponsorships, and gifts in kind.

Yes, I look on the back of programs and patronize businesses that have sponsored events I happen to attend. I will go to the local coffee shop when meeting friends, or purchase my jeans from the local clothing store. I will go back to the local hardware/home&garden store to purchase those items I need to maintain my home/lawn. Whenever possible, I utilize a local floral designer for those occasions where a bouquet or arrangement is needed. I buy my groceries at the local grocery store - even though I probably could get many of these items at a reduced cost from somewhere else. If they don't have something I am looking for, I will make the drive to another store that is well known for their amazing contributions to our community - even though it is part of a chain, it is still 'locally owned and operated'.

The thing is, these businesses don't receive my support because they are 'local'. They receive my support because from the moment I walk in the door, I feel like I am welcome there. That I am important. That they are going to go the extra mile to make sure I walk out that door happy - even if they are unable to provide what I am looking for. For the most part, I encounter this in most local, and indeed many other businesses I enter - and it keeps me coming back repeatedly.

Which is why it burns my a$$ I am always taken by surprise when I walk into a shop and suddenly become invisible. I might get the obligatory "hello, how are you today?", but from there on in there is zero conversation. It is an interesting experience to spend several minutes looking at items, sometimes picking them up and examining them, even holding an item of clothing in front of myself to see what it might look like ... aaaaaannnnndddd .... nothing. I once spent a full twenty five minutes in a small shop, touching things, wandering around, even looking at items on the counter - only to observe the clerk spend the entire time on her cell phone. I didn't even get a 'Thanks for coming in' when I said goodbye and thank you on my way out.

I have watched two employees dress mannequins and wrap scarves on hangers while I wander around the store. And I wonder, is my business really that important? I understand that my lack of designer duds perhaps gives the impression that I can't afford to shop in that particular establishment; however I can assure you that is simply not the case. I would have gladly opened my wallet had I simply been asked, "is there anything we can help you with?".

Perhaps I expect too much. Maybe I catch people on 'off' days, or they are simply preoccupied and fail to notice the customer in the store. I get it - things happen. So I'll give it a second chance. Sometimes my experience is much better, sometimes it isn't. And I won't go back.

One thing is certain, these experiences make me appreciate those businesses that go the extra mile even more. The sales clerks that initiate conversation the moment I walk in the door. The grocery store employee that sees me looking at a wall of produce and takes the time to ask if they can help me find something in particular. The employee who goes and looks in the back, even though they are 99% certain they no longer have an item in stock.

If you are in Red Deer area, or even passing through - make sure you check out these great local businesses ...

Peavey Mart - Lacombe
Kavaccino's - Lacombe
Upper Level Clothing - Lacombe
Calyx Floral Design - Central Alberta & Area - based in Blackfalds
Blackfalds Family Foods - Blackfalds
After the Grind - Blackfalds
Great Strides - Red Deer
SOBEYS South - Red Deer

There are of course, many, many more - but I can honestly say I have never gotten anything but amazing service in each and every one of these businesses. And I sincerely appreciate that.

What are your thoughts? Are my expectations too high? How do you decide which businesses to patronize and which to skip? Where have you had amazing customer service?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

(cue): Doorbell

Is there a secret code that says when the kids are behaving at their worst some random person suddenly shows up on your doorstep?

This seems to happen to me a lot - which is not to say that my kids behave terribly a good majority of the time, it's just they seem to know when an unexpected audience is waiting in the wings.

Tonight was no exception.

We have been implementing a bedtime routine for the past month, and so far, most of our evening distress has thankfully subsided. It works out great for both the kids and me.

For whatever reason, the boys were on a tear tonight and not listening whatsoever. Normally they would get a long back scratch and snuggle before bed; however I informed them that because of their behaviour, they would only be getting a hug, kiss, and tuck in. Of course, this resulted in much screaming, wailing, and sounds similar to what you would make if one of your limbs was being ripped off.

(cue): Doorbell

I told the boys to stay in bed and went downstairs.

The woman was moving away quickly from the door. She seemed somewhat surprised when I opened the door and said hello. Turns out it was a candidate for the upcoming election.

To her credit, she said she didn't think anyone was home (which is the nice way of saying it sounds like you are in the process of dismembering someone but there is no blood on your shirt so I'm confused).

We talked for a few minutes, and she went on her way.

When I returned upstairs, I noticed B with his face smushed into the window and arms spread wide as if to say "save me".

I think it is safe to say that after hearing the sounds of torture and seeing the almost naked boy trapped upstairs, she will either not be returning for a follow up visit or will be calling Children's Services.


Credit: Snark Ecards