Today a customer who was in town for work, who had previously patronized the Game Universe chain of stores I managed in Milwaukee, stopped by my new store in Rochester NY. Unfortunately I was not there, but the staffer commented that he had mentioned how he often got things cheaper online, then proceeded to drop over $100 on games in our store. He also mentioned that he specifically thought of me and my move to Rochester when he’d seen his job was taking him here, and sought us out.
Now, there are larger stores in our area, stores with excellent selections, and – most critically – stores closer to his hotel. The reason he came to us and spent 2-3 times the average receipt was the personal connection we had.
If you’re in retail, but especially game retail which is plagued with a “Dungeon Troll Proprietor (TM)” image, making a personal connection to your customers is critical. If you don’t make that connection, you might survive. But today a customer from halfway across the country singled our establishment out because he knew me. That doesn’t just make our staff or me feel special, it illustrates how powerful the personal connection is in specialty retail. How essential it is that whenever someone visits my store, I or my staff are ready to make a connection with them, to give something of ourselves, and to make that customer feel important every time. This is it. This is the core of what we do.