I have been umming & arghing about writing this blog post for a while….but I have finally decided to write this post.
A few months ago a lady called to book an appointment with me, she was mother of the bride, had her dress but wasn’t sure what colour to accessorise it with. She had an idea of the style of hat, but wanted to come in & try her dress on in my fitting room & check out my designs. She said she was looking at buying hat, shoes & bag.
Along with 2 friends she came to her appointment; she changed into her dress & she spent nearly 2 hours checking styles, sizes & the key question….colours! We had every colour out that we could & I tried them all on. She wanted to know my thoughts & reasoning behind why I had chosen a specific colour…..finally she choose a striking hot pink. It suited both her & her outfit perfectly.
I am not a pushy sales person at all….but I was totally flabbergasted when she turned to me, after deciding the colour she was going for….& explained that she had seen 2 hats, similar size & style to the ones we tried on her, in a high street store. But she couldn’t decide what colour to go with, as the shop assistant’s weren’t able to give much advise. So she came to see me, specifically to pick my brain…..and then was going back to buy the hat from the high street. And to top it off, her & her friends actually burst out laughing when she said this to me.
Now what cheesed me off about this….if she had said to me honestly that she had seen something elsewhere but just wasn’t sure if it would suit her….I still would have given advice! I want to see ladies wearing more & more hats every day….so of course I’m going to encourage someone buying a hat. Yes, I’d rather it was from me, but had she been honest, I still would have helped her!
A few months on & I still can’t believe that she did this. It was, in my opinion so rude….and unnecessary. She was asking me questions about my prices & lead times….all questions that I would expect to be asked if someone was buying from me.
When you buy from a small independent store you are buying the personal knowledge, the thoughts & ideas about how or why a piece was designed, you are buying the hours & hours a person has trained to learn their craft! And you are also buying a personal consultation & service which is automatically included in that too.
If you buy a hat from the high street, the sales assistants are getting their wages whether you buy that piece or not. If you buy from a small business, the sales assistant / designer / blogger / marketing expert / maker are only getting wages when you buy from them.
Now I fully appreciate that my prices are not for every person; but I will do what I can for all customers. I often have ladies who come to me with a previously worn piece, one that wasn’t made by me, that I will then alter & amend so it suits their new outfit.
It saddens me that in the incident above I was not only taken for granted, but was openly mocked & taken advantage of. Just last week my friend Hazle from The Book Nut at Barleylands has announced that her little book shop is closing. She cannot compete with Amazon….and yet on multiple occasions people will ask for her thoughts & to see if a book is suitable for them…..and then once she has given them hints & tips of what books to buy, they then say they’ll buy it online. And off they go!
This isn’t a moan at any of my customers….but I think we’ve all done it before. We are all short of money at times & go for the cheaper option; I don’t begrudge anyone doing that at all….but just be honest with us when you are talking & absorbing our personal knowledge.
To run a small business you have to give your whole heart & soul to it….so please do continue to use small local businesses where you can. I can’t imagine what my local town would look like without the small independent traders there!
Thanks & sorry for moaning!
Here….this is a photo of my cat Brenda to make you smile again.
All images (apart from Brenda) are courtesy of Shop Local Club Card….you can sign up to their great website & app to find all of your local stores….so sign up today!