A Forgotten Economic Lesson

Shouldn't stores be welcoming to customers?

by Friendly Bear

The veterinarian I visited yesterday required me to wait outside the building while she examined my dog. No customer was allowed in the building. They keep the door locked.

Today at noon, I had an appointment to get new reading glasses. The eye glasses store required me to wait outside the building until they came for me. But, before I was allowed in the building, they measured my body temperature. This was pointless, as my normal body temperature is almost 2 degrees cooler than most people. Still, I tolerated it.

When a customer was allowed in or left, they unlocked the door for them and quickly locked it again.

The employee who runs the front desk commented that even when COVID is long gone, she wants to keep operating the store this way, keeping the door locked. Her words to me were, “I want to control the flow into the store!”

Another customer had arrived as I was pulling into the parking space. They turned him away and he was visibly angry. When I was leaving, he was allowed in the store.

In my misspent youth, I spent time in gun stores, soaking up the wisdom of the regular curmudgeons who wandered in to swap stories and societal analyses. These included a beef wholesaler-turned-gun dealer, some crusty retired detectives, ambulance medics, a few career Army guys, competition shooters, and a couple of mechanics.

One day, the beef wholesaler, who was unusually wise, quizzed me with, “What does GM do?!” With a look that showed my opinion of the question being silly, I replied, “Make cars.”

“No!” he emphatically retorted, “They sell cars.”

“GM can make all the cars they want, but they have to sell cars to make money.” The lesson was that GM must attract customers who want the product and want to do business with GM.

Today, it occurred to me that the employees of the veterinarian and the eye store do not understand how they make money. When it comes to customers/clients, you must offer a product or service they want, and you must be sufficiently accessible/pleasant/beneficial/trustworthy for them to want to do business with you.

Controlling the customer and locking them out seldom produces warm and fuzzy feelings.

Friendly Bear is a staff writer for Scragged.com  Read other Scragged.com articles by Friendly Bear or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Great story.

Years ago I had the opportunity to meet some Russians who were visiting form the USSR and talking with people in business here in the US. We discussed planning for the future. Our process here involved looking at demand for our product, anticipating how we might make it more attractive to customers, how we could get our price below the competitors while keeping quality higher than the competition... estimating costs, looking at our ability to sell stock and issue bonds to grow our capacity... Complex...

The Russian guys were making shoes. They had a target number to produce... Supply was fixed. They "adjusted" demand. Meaning when the sold out, it was too bad.

They were one step removed from your Vet, where people have forgotten how to make money. These shoe makers were socialists who didn't NEED to make money.

October 19, 2020 9:39 PM

Walking around the Upper East Side of Manhattan this afternoon, I saw more people than ever not wearing masks. I have a feeling we are about to break free.

October 20, 2020 2:23 PM

Hopefully your eyeglass clerk will get her way.

Then when the store closes for lack of business and she becomes unemployed, she'll wonder have an epiphany and understand why.

Nah, she'll just blame the customers!

October 21, 2020 3:47 PM
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