Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Chain Reaction

It’s encouraging when dealing with a chain store actually results in a positive resolution, and disconcerting when dealing with a small entrepreneur is more negative.

The positive experience occurred in the last couple of days.

When visiting a local chain store which carries grocery items as well as soft goods, I was profoundly dismayed to be informed by staff that due to management directive all hand carts had been removed, apparently due to problems with their treatment by young children. As one who grocery shops frequently in a circuit of nearby chain stores, almost always using a hand cart, this was a game changer insofar as continuing to do business there, and I let staff know this as I steamed out.

Not content to be simply blunted by the lack of justification, I sent an email in the evening to the chain’s head office. Early the next day I received an acknowledgement and advisory that I should expect follow-up from the store, shortly after which I received a note from the store manager asking me to get directly in touch with him to discuss the matter.

Albeit skeptical, I decided to give the guy a chance, but it took three unsuccessful calls, and an email suggesting he could try contacting me by phone, before I did get to speak with him.  It turned out that part of the reason I hadn’t been able to reach him was that he was having discussions with staff to clarify the reality – namely, the current batch of hand-carts had been sent out to be cleaned, and in fact more new ones were on order. He apologized almost profusely for the mix-up, admitting the obvious point that no retailer wants to lose a good regular customer, and asked me to seek him out in a future visit.

Contrast this attitude with experience over the last few months with attempts to get small contractors to provide plumbing installation service (plumbing being not one of my better skills).  We’ve had two contractors come in to give us quotes.  The first, a friend of one of our adult sons, essentially backed off after giving us an approximate time line to complete the task.  The second, a seemingly friendly and knowledgeable fellow, has exhibited a disappointingly lax approach to taking on our business.

In advance of these episodes, if one had to speculate on whether the small entrepreneur or the chain store manager would be more likely to exhibit he valued our business, I would have expected the former, as what should be.  Yet, as the expressions go, you never really know, and it truly does takes all kinds.

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