I’ve started writing this particular piece about five times now. Either it’s morphed into something else, I had something more compelling come up in that moment, or for one reason or other, it just hasn’t felt right to complete and post it.
I’m pretty sure I’ve not put some version of this writing out there before. If I have, you’ll have to forgive me, I’m about to do it again.
For some reason that I vaguely understand, I have the ability to say when a given retail or wholesale venue (that includes service oriented locations) is close to the end of its life with relatively high accuracy.
The last time I told somebody the place they found themselves would soon be closing for good, was maybe four or five months ago (possibly a tiny bit longer). In that case, it was a national sandwich shop that has many other successful locations, both in my area, and across the country.
I had been doing business with the store in question for years. It was close to my home, and was a good place to grab a quick sandwich between the house and the laundromat where I go to do laundry.
I walked up to the door of the facility and found it to be closing or closed, more than an hour before the sign on the door indicated that was to happen. There were no traces in any of the windows, of notices saying they were either changing their hours, or that there were special circumstances that were causing them to shut down early on this particular occasion.
To make matters worse, there was a person inside the store, who told me they were closed, and not in a polite way. It was then and there, I informed that individual—after pointing out the posted hours—they were not long for this world.
Within the next month or two, they were indeed no longer with us as a business. The building in which they operated was knocked down with the space apparently becoming parking for an existing business moving to an adjoining edifice.
This is just one in a chain of such incidents.
There was one that had generally nice workers, and seemed to be a genuinely friendly, reasonably priced restaurant. Yet I knew it was likely, based on how they were doing business, they were going to cease operating soon. I told various folks, but in that case, I’m pretty sure they’d already been told it was almost certainly upcoming. As such, they didn’t seem in the least surprised to hear me say as much.
The most recent place where I had to be the bearer of bad tidings, was a local branch of an at-least-interstate dollar store. I should qualify any further statements in advance, by saying this location is still open for the time being.
In this latest situation, I had already written the particular instance of that entity off once before.
I had decided never to visit them again because of way they’d treated me and my Moderately Autistic son.
I should clarify. My son is, to say the least, often challenging, and that’s putting things nicely. It’s been a ton of effort to get him to realize there’re a lot of things that’re inappropriate for him to do and say.
Along the way, I’ve massively scaled back my expectations—generally on a temporary basis—where his behavior is concerned. Mostly, I hold back various rebukes, choosing only to take him to task in fairly serious circumstances.
At some point, I was shopping in this particular dollar store, and somebody came and offered me an ultimatum when my son misbehaved in an extremely mild way in their building. As I recall, I stopped everything, walked out, and found another vendor offering basically the same sorts of products—most particularly, the ones I wanted at that moment. Those items, by the way, were for my son.
At some point along the way, I found that particular chain—at least in all its local stores—appeared to be horribly bad at keeping in stock the one or two items I regularly purchased there. The result of this, is that I ceased frequenting that company’s locations in my area.
Today, I went back to that store. The last time I had been there, I hadn’t written it off as likely to go under. Rather, I’d just decided it wasn’t a place I really wanted to visit.
I found myself in special circumstances, where my son—who’d gone back to school staring the second grade for the first time today—wanted some things (the same items they normally had) on the way to some other place.
Entering the facility, I noticed there were a number of signs talking about the local mask mandate. This is presently not remotely uncommon.
Local government has set requirements for masks which I routinely ignore. I could go into the details for that, but it’s really a matter for another column.
I’ve been to a number of places who had similar signs up, ignored the placards and continued on with my shopping.
The local rules essentially say mask wear is required. They have no teeth because there’s no official enforcement. In fact, there’s not even a sign that it was ever provided for in any of the ordinances.
The result is, almost everywhere I go, the people working in various businesses let me in, and get me out as quickly as possible, purchases in hand.
Unlike with sales of alcohol, no language is in place in any of the edicts to indicate that sellers may not serve you if you don’t meet the specific terms of the requirement. I know this because far bigger companies would assuredly not be willing to flout such terms, fearing their businesses would undergo some sort of sanction if they did. Further, losing me as a patron would likely have little effect on their bottom line.
This person insisted. No mask, no service. The result was, I reluctantly left. This time though, I came to the conclusion that particular sub-unit of the company was likely doomed to failure.
You may not realize it, but how you act in your capacity in a given entity, and how they require you to treat customers can and often does, signal the end of the entity in question.
I may be wrong, this location may not close. That remains to be seen. As for me though, I’ve hit my stopping point, and definitely won’t darken their doors with my presence ever again.
Businesses should always remember, they serve at the pleasure of those willing to frequent their establishments. If you continually do things that run those people off, count on falling by the wayside. Heck, there’re times when you don’t even have to do that. A local branch of an at least interstate doughnut shop, went under just because others were in their market space and located nearby. As a result the competitors won the day. Never forget, the customer may not always be right, but their patronage is essential to your existence.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.