Beware of Taking Your Hungry Market for Granted

Here’s a story about taking your market for granted. You might find it interesting.

Being in a part of the world that only enjoys nice weather for a few months out of the year, many of us here get pretty excited when the ground thaws and the birds sing…and the flowers are ready for planting.

Talk about a hungry market…

So, every year, around the last weekend in May, I head out to the garden centres to see what lovely plants and flowers are available for me to buy. Talk about a hungry market!! While I am out shopping in the garden centres, so is everyone else. The places are packed with hopeful people, both serious gardeners and wanna be gardeners alike. And they don’t think twice about spending whatever it takes to have those lovely flowers and plants to grace their homes and gardens. We’re obsessed.

Customer’s are saying “Take my money!!”

It’s like, “I have money and I want to buy as many beautiful flowers as I can fit into my car.” Even more, “I’m prepared to come back again and again to make sure I get everything I want!!”
And this one… “Move aside so I can get to those flowers…don’t take all the best ones!”

You get the picture, don’t you? Where I live, garden centres make lots and lots of money in May and June….provided they are prepared for the onslaught of those gardeners and, of course, the wanna be gardeners.

That’s where my story starts.

In late June, one of our local garden centres, that has been in business for many years, announced a ‘going out of business sale’. I couldn’t help feel bad for them when I saw the sign out front.

It read “Going out of Business…Everything on Sale…30% off.”

Still, it was exciting…bargain time!

Yes, I have to admit, I got excited at the prospect of getting even more of those much sought after flowers and plants…maybe some beautiful new pots as well…and all for a great price.
I could always fit more of these beauties into my garden.
You can never have too many!

So, I pulled into the parking lot.

Now, as garden centres go, it wasn’t that attractive. The place was in need of some repair and some tidying up. Maybe they let it go downhill once they realized they were not going to be around for long. But it made me wonder…how had they been competing with the big name retailers who had huge, beautiful, clean and well organized garden centres? Was it price? Was it the fact that they had been established in the community for a long time?

Perhaps personal service…the kind that comes from being in the community and knowing everyone. Or, maybe they were really good at building relationships and keeping everyones hopes alive
– that they, too, would have the most incredible, the most gorgeous flower gardens in the city if they were to buy from them.

Not so fast…

Well, if my experience was any indicator, I would just say that they did not compete; could not compete; probably didn’t even care to compete.

Anyway, here’s what happened. I wandered around the garden centre noting many, many very attractive floral arrangements – the flowers were incredible and the pots were kind of unique.

And, armed with the knowledge that everything was 30% off, I got myself a large, flat cart and started filling it up. Oh, this was almost too good to be true. All of these magnificent treasures for my garden and all at 30% off.

I headed to the cash desk to make my purchase with the intention of hurrying straight home to get my new treasures firmly planted and arranged in the few areas, around my house, that weren’t already brimming with the hundreds of dollars worth of flowers that I had bought earlier. Excited? Yes…couldn’t wait.

For any of you who don’t share my passion for flowers, this must sound pretty lame but, please, humor me. My world is dark, cloudy and very cold for about 7 months out of 12.
In any case, this story could be about pretty much any type of retail outlet!


It was there, at the cash desk, that I heard the terrible news.
When the bill came to an amount that was clearly incorrect, I voiced my concern. I said “I think you forgot to take the 30% off.” The cashier (who I quickly found out is a member of the family who owns the garden centre) was disgusted. She acted like I was trying to rob her at gunpoint. She said “these are not 30% off.”


I explained that the sign outside said “Everything on Sale… 30% off.” And this was her reply.

“No, that doesn’t include these. Do you still want them? Or not?”
I expressed my disappointment and tried to make my point about the sign and being mislead but she would not budge. She said pots are 30% off and flowers are 30% off, but pots with flowers in them or flowers in pots were not on sale at all. Disappointed or not, like I mentioned above, her family owns the soon to be defunct garden centre so I really didn’t have any options.
There was no ‘supervisor’ to complain to. It was her way or the highway!

Bottom line…

At this garden centre… that was going out of business don’t
forget: Pots were 30% off and flowers were 30% off, but any flowers in pots, or any pots holding flowers, were not 30% off. They weren’t even on sale.

And, to make matters worse, the staff member was surly…both miserable and rude. If I misunderstood, I’m sure many other gardeners extaordinaire before me had also. I left empty handed.
It was no longer the price that concerned me…it was a matter of principle.

Enter the competition…

I wonder how long this establishment has been misleading their customers and then abusing them when they got to the counter. I wonder if the arrival of the brand new Lowe’s store, just up the street, gave the flower crazy community the option that they had been waiting for all along. I suspect it did.

The moral of this story: Don’t ever take your hungry market for granted. Someone else may come along and serve up exactly what they’re looking for…and they may be prepared to do it better than you do. In fact, someone is probably planning it right now.

All the Success!
Josephine Hill
DMSRetail Inc.

P.S. If you want to make sure your employees don’t make your customers feel taken for granted, check out the Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals YourTime Study Course:

P.P.S. And don’t forget, until August 2, 2011, the Retail Operations Management YourTime Study Course is available for pre-order, exclusively for you, at the introductory price of $495. Added bonus – we pay for the shipping and handling on all orders received by August 2, 2011. Order now:

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