My dad has given me some interesting advice in my lifetime.
Things ranging from “Always look at people’s shoes, even in wheelchairs because that is how you can tell if they are faking” to “Date who you want…your Mother will be fine”. But the most helpful advice came from my days making comic books, you see my Dad used to come with me to comic book conventions and help me sell my books. At one of these shows he explained to me that to really make a sale you need to make a connection with the prospective buyer and try to gain their trust…he then proceeded to catch the eye of an older man wearing a Hello Kitty shirt and proceeded to ask “So you like little girls huh?”
Needless to say he didn’t get the sale but the advice was good.
I started thinking about this because of a blog post over at BLOGTO.com about the Death of High End Sneaker Shops in Toronto. While I am saddened by the fact that these shops are disappearing (I collect sneakers and and buy as many as 20-30 pairs a year) but I can’t say I am surprised…ok I am surprised a little but not shocked and here is why.
As someone who is the absolute 100% target market for these products, when I do frequent these shops no one will help me, or talk to me or treat me special at all…and by special I don’t mean kiss my ass, I mean take a look at my feet (I usually wear something special to shoe shop in) and notice I am a customer and treat me as such.
I can buy shoes online but choose to do so in real life so I can actually talk with like minded folks who share a same interest as me but always end up feeling like I am bothering people and am a burden. To me retail is less about selling merchandise and more about offering and selling an experience…and the experience you are selling shouldn’t be one of exclusion.
So if you own a specialty store, especially a shoe store follow my dad’s advice and “Always look at people’s shoes, even in wheelchairs” because knowing if someone if a possible customer is half of the battle.