me, myself & andrei

31 Dec 2007
The Smiles 'round The Corner

Context: Portugal [and not only] shop owners noticed a slow but steadily decrease in their sales for the holiday’s shopping period. They all say that people prefer to go to hypermarkets and buy everything in one place. And, I quote: “there is nothing to do about that”.

Reply & Idea
Remember Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail?… the bad Joe Fox versus the sweet Kathleen Kelly?… the big-sized and all-in-one bookshop versus ‘round-the-corner all-smiling bookshop?

Well… there are people and people. Unfortunately there are more people than people, but fortunately some of us are more people than the people.

What I’m trying to say is that while there is a large group of people that think that life is all about having money and then spending it, which think that with every second that passes by they are actually loosing money, no matter how much they make…

…while that happens, there are also people who are genuinely interested in others and feel within themselves that there is more to it than just money - curiously enough these are the ones that actually manage and spend them in a wiser manner.

So… what will happen is that there will be less small shops, because many won’t survive. Less and less people will come. And what could happen is that you will have only a handful of small shops all around the city.

But I don’t like that. And for that not to happen, shop owners need to get their hands dirty and become the old-towns’ person (to be politically correct). They will need to start knowing their customers, to be flexible when it comes to the price, to be joyful and to be real marketing-people. And they will need to do that with their handful of shop assistants, and bring them up as a family.

  1. Know the customers - well, did you ever go to a hypermarket and the assistant not only recognized you, but helped you pick the most suitable wine according to your previous tasting and desires? That will not happen very often, if ever. The flow of people is simply too big. But that can happen in a small shop, so that next time you go there you won’t stop at “Hello!” and a fake smile but go ahead with “Mr. Dechambert! Ohh do I have a challenge for you today or what? :))”

  2. Flexible prices - who said that bargaining, or better yet - haggling, should not happen? It’s fun and tells a lot about people’s personality. Not to mention… those people will definitely remember that they got away with 2€ more, no matter the character.

  3. Joyful - I’ll resume this to only one question: have you seen the face of the cashiers at supermarkets? I only had a couple of exceptions.

  4. Marketing-people - what we see today is a pure consumer-oriented marketing. Companies have offers with better prices in exchange for you signing a contract that you get to stay with them for another year at least (mobile networks and such), etc. It’s the same for shoes.. you get a discount if you buy 3 pairs, or you get a ticket which allows you to get a discount for your friend, etc. Then you have the display of important prizes and such, which should automatically mean that they are the best in what they do.
    The small shop owners need to reconsider the whole idea of marketing. Marketing implies for me: putting yourself out there. It’s not about showing that you are the best, but about providing something unique, knowing that you can do that and giving it away.

Too summarize… you need a Bentley. Just around the corner!