Today Miss M and I made our way to the metropolis of Starkville, Mississippi to do some shopping. We had some lists. Mind you– this was not pre-Christmas shopping. This was preparation for Thanksgiving shopping; State plays away tomorrow so it was not a pre-game-day Friday– not too crowded (by Starkville standards).
Working our way from west to east we hit Tractor Supply Co., WalMart, JCPenney, Kroger, the USPO, the Bank,
Corkeys another store which I cannot name because if I did you might think I was engaged in the illegal activity of transporting certain fluid substances from a county that’s swimming in certain fluid substances into one in which the sale, possession, consumption and transportation of said fluid substances of a particular chemical composition is illegal, and then the coffee shop, 929.
In the main, and not even wholly excepting WalMart– I am not lying– it was a not bad afternoon of shopping.
[Continue below. Not nearly as boring as it sounds]
The low point was Tractor Supply Co. The clerk was engaged with a customer with issues. She should have called for help. The store was empty. But– when some other associate walked past us and asked a perfunctory question, to which we replied, “Just waiting,” he stepped up and took my money. Had he asked if we needed help with that 40 pound bag of dog food, Tractor Supply would have moved ahead of WalMart.
Just as every other WalMart customer on the Planet says, I say, “I hate WalMart.” And I do for good historical reasons going back to the days when Sam Walton worked at Penney’s. WalMart is get in get out and count the dollars you save on s&*t. (I much prefer Fred’s, Family Dollar, and Dollar General for this sort of s&*t but that means I usually have to go to all three and we had already done that in town. In this regard, Starkville WalMart is BIG time.) Anyway– the remarkable thing about the WalMart experience today was that some associate we’d asked for direction not just pointed in the direction of what we were looking for, she hollered down the main aisle at us! “That’s it! Turn right there!” she yelled as we approached the right aisle. This is good customer service, WalMart-style.
I do not know what’s gotten into those JCPenney folk but they are all about correcting the mis-match between their point-of-sale system and their signage. They wanted to make it right.
For you shopping scouts out there– this is how you save $1.08. Learn to do simple arithmetic in your head. I caught the first mistake– $41.99 as the shoes scanned does not equal $29.99 as they were signed. Override POS. The second mistake was more subtle. Regularly priced $10, on sale for $8. Sign says $6.99. I didn’t catch that until after I’d signed, but was still standing there thinking things were about $1 + tax off from what I’d calculated in my head (7% sales tax in Mississippi). Look at the receipt. Boom. There’s that $1.01 + tax.
PLUS! And Miss M and I checked our notes back in the truck– what was up with there being actual real live sales associates in the departments just greeting customers? Asking if they could be of help? MY GOD, MAN! Who’s managing this place? Your salary cost is going to go through the roof!
On to Kroger.
I have not discussed this here yet, but our K-Roger is in the middle of an extensive expansion. Kroger sits in a strip center. There were 3-4 little shops (e.g., Dollar Tree) to one side. One day, everything but Kroger was gone. I would say that Kroger is expanding to at least 2.5 its previous size.
This has been going on for quite some time. Snails come out at night to help the tortoises move shelf after shelf of stuff from this end to that end. It’s really annoying. BUT! Someone for real thought this though. So there are people everywhere wandering around asking, “Can I help you find anything?”
Of course you can! “Where are those turkeys that are 79 cents per pound?”
“Oh! You mean the 78 cents per pound turkeys? There are right over here, ma’am.” And I’ll be danged if the guy didn’t walk me all the way over to the bin filled with 78 cents per pound turkeys.
[ASIDE: I had to call Mr. Big Food. He’d give me instruction to get a 15-16-20 pound turkey. I was faced with a choice. 15.75 vs. 20.25. 🙂 I am pleased as punch to tell you that there is a 20 1/4 pound turkey sitting in the fridge in the Bunkhouse.]
This is not the first time this has happened at Kroger during the remodel. Remember the gumbo tailgate? The store manager walked me to the filet powder. They are trying hard to not lose customers.
To finish the chronology. The mail box was the mail box and I didn’t recognize the woman at the drive thru bank and 929 has changed its brew but you can count on Starkville hippies to be among the nicest of folks.
Which leaves a reflection or two on customer service at the BIG JOINTS.
WalMart sucks (this is not an idle claim; it is claim about Sam Walton and his spawn) but most people are inclined to help others find what they are looking for.
JCP isn’t doing well and it would behoove JCP management to read a bit about James Cash Penney– and what he wrote– but, as above, people are inclined to help and may see the bottom line value in ‘The Customer’s Always Right’ approach. Nothing wrong with that.
I got nothing on Kroger. I see the overall picture but I’m not getting why the emphasis on customer service. Where else is there to shop in Starkville? WalMart? Vowell’s? Don’t forget we lived in Cincinnati, Kroger’s headquarters, for nine years. I knew the Kroger on Short Vine. I hated the Kroger down on Mitchell. I’ve got no idea what they are up to here in Starkville. Starkville is not a big market. Why the emphasis on customer service?
As with Penney’s.
Except, maybe, the one thing you have going for you in a brick & mortar vs. the alternative is people?
“May I help you?”