Sunday, October 10, 2010
When I opened up my storefront here on Smith Ave., I did it for one reason. One.
I am a customer service junkie and after spending my entire life in the salon/spa biz and after leaving that life and founding a strictly online shopping experience, the FEDEX and USPS carrier were not nearly enough stimulation for me.
My goal was to have a cool space, in my neighborhood, to run my online store. That's it. If the public was interested in my stuff, great. I certainly didn't move into this space because it was "prime real estate". Don't get me wrong, the West Side is an amazing neighborhood and Smith Avenue is certainly worthy of the title "Little Engine that Can and Want's To and is Trying."
But, a luxe beauty boutique on the West Side? No, not the best place. I knew that going in.
Well, the public did come, thanks to the press in these lovely Twin Towns. Though, they mostly came from every part of the city but my own backyard.
My clients are the most loyal and well-informed folks I know. Truly. They care and have been the most amazing cheerleaders for me and my vision since the day I opened. I am so blessed and thankful.
During these last four years, it has been a weekly occurrence to have a couple new clients from the neighborhood stop in each week. They come in, shop, and compliment me on my cute store.
I am so very grateful!
Like clockwork, the next inquiry is ALWAYS, "when did you open?" or some variant of that question.
During my very first year of being open, I didn't think anything of it. Inquiring minds, I thought. Maybe they just moved into the neighborhood, I imagined.
But, after year two, it was starting to get wear on my nerves a bit. Remember, these are folks from my neighborhood, asking me when I opened. Being the customer service professional I am, I always answered their questions, smiled and assisted them in their shopping experience, finding happiness in the fact that another person took the time to notice my cute store.
Smith Ave. is a very busy street and a main thoroughfare into downtown St. Paul. There are several studies that state that anywhere from 18-20 thousand, yes, THOUSAND, cars go by each day!
My StormSister Spatique storefront has now arrived at year 4 and I have a "for rent" sign in my window and a kick-ass sale going on. Because I believe in rewarding my loyal customers, I don't have "sale" signs all over my windows as I am not offering deals to people who are not paying attention.
The yellow "for rent" sign is bringing in a lot of new clients and inquiries about my business.
When I answer their questions about how long I have been here, the expression on their faces is priceless. If it were truly possible for our eyes to pop out of our heads, that about sums up their reaction. Utter shock! Some actually seem a bit embarrassed that they were not aware of me for the last four years. I know I would be!
I do take responsibility for not having done a lot of advertising in neighborhood publications, but, after about a year of purchasing ads in local papers, with little interest from locals, I concentrated my advertising dollars on the publications that were bringing business from other areas of the Twin Cities.
That brings me to the title of this post - Air Dancer. (Did you watch a few seconds of the video at the beginning of this post? Please do. Just a few seconds. It won't hurt. I promise.)
We've all seen these Air Dancers blowing in the wind at car dealerships, etc. I find them ridiculous and tacky and would NEVER, I repeat, NEVER patronize a business that uses one. That's just me.
But, clearly, on a street with 20,000 cars passing by each day, so many neighbors not knowing I am here, I should have had one of them to get their attention! That's sad.
A cute, cool storefront wasn't enough. Small neighborhood businesses should look cool, right? That's what separates us from the Big Boxes and fast-food yuck that is out there. Right?
Four years I have been in this space and a yellow rental sign is bringing daily visits from people in my neighborhood who had no idea I was even here. Wow, is all I can say.
You don't have to patronize each business in your neighborhood, but is it too much to be aware of what biz's are in your neighborhood?