Connecting With Your Customers

We used to shop at a store called Restoration Hardware.  Contrary to its name, it is not a hardware store in the customary sense of the term.  For those of you in the United States, you will remember when it was fun to poke around that store, with its fun little gadgets and toys.  Restoration Hardware also had beautiful furniture and lamps.  In fact, we still have quite a few lamps we purchased from them.  Though most of the couches were too deep for our small frames, we used to drool over their bedroom sets with their gorgeous dressers whose drawers were lined with fragrant cedar.  We could see those sets in our bedroom and thought one day we might try to save up for one, pricey as they were.

Then last year or the year before, Restoration Hardware made a drastic change in their merchandise.  Gone were those cute little gadgets and toys, except during Christmas.  The furniture no longer was something we envisioned in our home.  The pieces were massive and seemed more appropriate for a scene in Indiana Jones or a stop on the Orient Express.  The bright and cheery interior had been whisked away, and something dark and cave-like had replaced it.  We stopped going there, and other people we talked to who used to frequent that store stopped going as well, for the same reasons.  A few months ago,  the only Restoration Hardware store in south Hampton Roads closed.

Friday, when I went to get the mail, I found two Restoration Hardware catalogues crammed into our mailbox.  They were huge and slick.  How many trees, we wondered, had been destroyed in the making?  As costly and as impressive as those catalogues are, they would never induce me to even visit Restoration again.  If anything, they remind me of why I stopped going in the first place.  They no longer sell anything I would ever want to buy or could afford.  They stopped catering to the ordinary middle class customer.

Never would this work in my home. Page after page in the catalogue had similar furniture.

On the other hand, I went to Stein Mart Saturday and bought a pair of pantyhose and a leather travel case for my medications.

When I got home and reached into my shopping bag, I found a note from Jay Stein himself, thanking me for shopping in his store.

Now this made me feel valued!

Big fancy catalogues and massive furniture don’t impress me.  It’s the little things that count, like remembering who your customers are.  Thank you, Jay Stein.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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21 Responses to Connecting With Your Customers

  1. pattisj says:

    We used to wander through Restoration Hardware, but the last time we were there, they had all the signs about closing. Yet the prices were incredibly high, and hubby didn’t know who in the world would even buy that stuff! Interesting that you showed that catalog page, because that’s what we were looking at when he made the comment!

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, Patti, the merchandise was insane and insanely priced. If they are having to close some of their stores, I don’t think they should be spending so much on those huge catalogues. It doesn’t make any business sense to me. Are there that many fabulously wealthy people with enormous homes and bad decorating style who buy from that catalogue?

  2. I’ve only been in a Restoration Hardware store twice. Both times I was intrigued by the little “odd” gadgets and toys. So sad about the changes. I’ve worked “Peak” at LL Bean for 2 years now – after 40 years of working in professional positions, they have taught me volumes about customer service and the meaning of “corporate culture.” While our Bean Boots and Wicked Good Slippers are best sellers – customer contact and service is why LL Bean is successful. I have been honored to be a part of that business. …Love the note!!

    • Coming East says:

      That is one major reason I have been a Beaner since I was sixteen, Carol! And I always order on the phone so I can talk to wonderful people like you. Plus, returns for any reason are easy peasy.

  3. Leah says:

    Really nice post! I didn’t realize that about Restoration Hardware. Too bad too. I liked their decorative little things that you described.

  4. Robin says:

    I was never a fan of Restoration Hardware. I’m not sure why. If the rest of the catalog is anything like the page you displayed, I don’t think I’ll become a fan, either.

    I love that note from Jay Stein. It’s nice to feel valued. :)

  5. E.C. says:

    It’s obvious why the Restoration Hardware mostly went out of business. There’s not a big demand for gaudy and over pricey.
    Stein Mart sounds like a nice place to shop. It’s nice to shop where we feel appreciated. :)

    • Coming East says:

      Restoration Hardware is still very much in business, but I know they have closed some stores, so I suspect that they are losing customers because of their decisions to change their inventory. Yes, Stein Mart is a very nice store.

  6. winsomebella says:

    Change is inevitable of course, but why not leave well enough alone? It is always nice to go back to stores and places that retain their original flavor, I think.

  7. Margie says:

    Those are quite the chairs! I expect the only creature that would find them comfy to curl up in is the family cat.

  8. It’s so sad when our favourite shops lose their way and what a good point about their trees! :)

  9. Dor says:

    Customer service is surely the name of the game. Your Restoration Hardware place lost track of what consumers really wanted and then forgot them altogether. I used to believe that when I got mad enough at a place like you did, it would soon go out of business – and it usually did. You are so right Susan. It’s the little things that count.

  10. Al says:

    Loved this post, Susan. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I posted a similar blog quite a while ago that you might want to read. http://thecvillean.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/my-world-versus-the-real-world/

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