Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Newbies and Stores That Love Them

When you are passionate about something do you keep it to yourself?  Not usually.  When you meet someone else as passionate as you, is it a turn off?  Not usually.  So why then are there places where hobbyists do not welcome the obvious future hobbyists, children?

Recently GeekMom wrote about a store in the Cleveland, Ohio area which does welcome children, a comic book store.  They've even instituted Take Your Kid to the Comic Shop Day.  Over the last two years, we've become interested in electronics.  As a newbie, the local electronics store was a candy shop full of unfamiliar flavors.  Unfortunately, there are two types of clerks at this store: ones that love helping newbies and ones that don't.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to electronics through one of the clerks who loves helping newbies, but my husband had more than one occasion of being utterly frustrated with the pure lack of interest in helping him figure out components he needed or how something worked by two of those that don't love helping newbies.  He almost stopped going there.

In an age when practically everything can be bought online, it is understandable when local shops plead for support.  However, a store that tolerates employees who systematically spurn, ridicule or just plain look down their noses at the very customers supporting them will die.  We've noticed of late that this particular store has changed some, less of those that don't like helping customers are there now.  But one thing that remains is the basic lack of understanding of children and why every store should welcome them.  Children may not have buying power now, but they will and believe me, they remember how they're treated.  Also, if you have a parent bringing their children into a place like that and showing them around, it's not because they couldn't get a babysitter most of the time.  It is because they want to share their passion with their children.  Children whose parents do that often appreciate that passion and take it up in time.

Any business that wants to survive the onslaught of online buying power, cheaper rates through bulk internet shops, needs to be more personable.  What a local store offers is the personal experience, the ability to meet with someone face to face, to receive advice and knowledge.  In the past it may have been enough to provide a large stock.  Now, that won't fly.  All local shops need to recognize that what they offer is an experience.  If they are willing to buy into that model and give the customer memories of a good time when in their store, they will ensure themselves customers for life, and word of mouth will make a difference in their customer base, which should always include the future buyers of their community: children.


De said...

You're exactly right. I can think of two recent experiences that bear this out: The aquarium store and the bead shop. Shopping at the aquarium store always felt like hanging around at a club that we couldn't quite get into. At the bead shop, I was a customer there as a kid, and when I brought my daughter in last week those same proprietors were as kind and helpful as could be. They encouraged us to come back anytime we wanted for impromptu instructions on making beaded jewelry. No classes to register for, no additional cost.

Lynnea said...

De, sounds like your bead store is savvy to what the aquarium store will eventually pay for. I love stores that love my children.