Thursday, June 28, 2018

"How Can I Help You?"

Hello again!  It's been Spring since I reached out here; this sometimes happens as I approach Summer.  Our retail location is typically busy coupled with my approaching scans at MD Anderson.  If you haven't been following along...I had a form of cancer (ACC) in 2007 and I still present with no evidence of disease.  Every year tho, I fear my record will be ruined and this cancer, with a high rate of recurrence will return.  So I go quiet for a while.
This year too, well, for more than a year, I've been extremely fatigued.  To the point, I've locked the door of the shop, turned off the lights and just laid on the floor.  It turned out I had chronic zinc deficiency; that a simple blood test revealed.  It's still taking me a while to feel better, but nearly there.
The other thing is this store.  I love it; we've been here 10 years, but I feel like I'm constantly under attack and never connecting with my customers. 
We have a local competitor (a home girl, if you will...everyone's rooting for her).  Problem is, every promotion, product line and occasionally web images from our own store and text...get pilfered.  Yeah, I could say something.  I could do something...but it looks bad to be on the defensive always...and proves, at least, she got to us and I promise you, she'll use it to her advantage.  We've had a handful of other stores and artisans copy us's as if every one of our Facebook posts get replicated and, in many ways, used more successfully on the backs of our hard work and investments. 
Then as I'm walking out of my MD Anderson appointment with good news again, I pull out my phone to text my mom...its the first thing I do every year; to have a Facebook message popup mid text.  A news reporter 5 hours north of our store wants to interview ME about my new store there.   Wha....after we clarified I wasn't opening a second location or moving; it turns out someone is using the name Nest Interiors in our same state.  It's confusing as I'd already had reps calling about orders I didn't place and hello, this lady thought it was us too.  So, a lawyer has been called and this now has to be dealt the way, don't you think its weird for a new business not to know of an existing business of the same name AND for a new business opening to have no website, Facebook page or phone message (as in their case).
The other thing that I suggested too; we're not connect with our customers...that's you!  Right before Father's Day, I sent out my weekly email.  I struggled as I no longer have my dad and parts of the relationship were hard for me as he was ill.  Ultimately, I decided to be authentic.  I shared my favorite picture of him, how he had been a really good guy, gave me this crazy never stop work ethic and I missed him.  I have never had so many unsubscribes.  I'm sorry, if you're looking for Wayfair, please go there now; I'm a real person and I'm trying to be apart of this community, town, and world...but you have to let me in. 
Today, a nice middle-aged lady came in; for context: the shop is clean, I added a water fountain, soft instrumental music is playing, plus I greeted her.  She could not of been more uncomfortable.  I asked how she was doing today; one site for retail advice said this is the WORST thing to ask a customer AND make them share about themselves.  I'm sorry when did we stop caring about one another?!  She flipped through the garden flags quickly; passed me again, "please let me know if I can help you find anything,"  Unable to make eye contact with me, "I...I...I'm just...looking."  darts away.  It's fine; but I sincerely wish people could just communicate.  Because if there's something specific, I'd love to know and when I hear it enough I know to stock it.
So here we are; I know that was a big ranty rant.  But I want to connect with youNo one ever comments (unless they are loons or robots) but I get many hits on each of these posts.  So, I'm inviting you to respond if any of this resonates with you; retailer or customer or just person that found yourself staring into the interwebs.  It's time for all us to start caring about one another and recognizing (and applauding) when someone is being real.