What Can Happen If You Open a Half-hour Early!

The bill came to about $2,700.

Getting that hearty bundle-of-bucks is an indicator of what happens when you open a little earlier and close a little later than the norm.

My wife went shopping for a mattress at the Nelson store of a "major New Zealand retailer." The retailer, incidentally, had run a huge print ad that day in an effort to immediately increase traffic—though my wife hadn't seen it. It was rather late in the day. She wandered around, wasn't overly impressed by the offerings—though they were decent enough. There were four or five salespeople on the floor, however, who had a fair shot at earning her custom. Not one approached her. A few minutes later she walked out. Not in a huff. Just walked out.

The next morning, while awaiting the 9AM opening of another shop (not bedding), we walked past Brownies, a family-run mattress and bedding store, around since 1939. Brownies, to our pleasant surprise, stood out by opening at 830AM, about a half-hour, at least, before the herd. One of the family members, on active duty at the opening bell, subsequently told us they opened early and closed late in part to attract folks going to or coming back from work. "That's when a lot of people shop," was their straightforward answer (in the "duh" category—though it apparently didn't occur to others).

An exceptionally knowledgeable salesperson immediately engaged Susan. She wandered around, and eventually made a purchase. That is, she purchased the mattress she'd hoped to find. And, uhm, a set of twin bed mattresses and bed frame, that were not on her list. And about four pillows—as I said, about $2,700 worth in total.

All because the store was open early, had a decent-but-not-spectacular set of products, and very attentive-but-not-hovering staff.

The "major New Zealand retailer," by the way, is also under newfound competitive assault. Their local folks failed miserably—not on product selection, but on attentiveness. My wife is not as picky about customer service as I am, by a long shot. But aggressive rudeness is another kettle of fish.

May Brownies prosper from now until kingdom come!

(And may the "major New Zealand retailer" get its act together—that is, improve by an order of magnitude on the basics which can indeed set local stores apart from the "big box" monsters.)

(This vignette is also included in our recitation on independent retailers.)