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A Kid in a Candy Store

Actually two kids. My boys, ages 13 and 10.

After a day at the Michigan Renaissance Festival that thrilled my 10 year old because of the sword play, we stopped in the quaint little berg of Linden, MI to visit Linden Sweet Shoppe, owned by my toy store buddies Chris & Laura Mathews.

Chris & Laura weren’t in – good for them for getting a Saturday night off – but the two staff working that night were more than adequate replacements.

My boys were simultaneously in heaven and in paralysis.

My best estimate is that there were over 150 jars of candies from which the boys could choose lining the wall behind the counter. Every sweet imaginable from candy necklaces to pixie sticks to chocolate covered cake batter to LEGO-shaped, sweet-tart-tasting, building bricks.

The boys struggled to choose which candies would fill their bags.

Patience and Helpfulness
While they wandered up and down the aisle behind the counter (yes, the staff let them back there to get a better look) I was getting impatient. Make a decision, I cajoled them. Meanwhile, the staff showed amazing patience, carefully explaining each candy, giving them samples if appropriate, sharing their favorites, and overall treating these boys as if they were princes in their palace.

Other customers entered the store and the staff greeted them by name, asked about previous purchases, and made everyone feel equally important. Still, my boys dragged on the decision-making process. I had time to order and eat my ice cream cone (Deep Dish Apple – delicious and just the perfect temperature!) while the boys agonized over every jar.

And still, again, the staff treated them like royalty. All for a $17 sale!

WOW Customer Service still lives. I saw it with my own two eyes. (And that was before I introduced myself as a friend of the owners.) Here are some of the things the staff did right:

  • Greeted customers by name (when they knew them)
  • Talked about the product openly and honestly
  • Had helpful product knowledge
  • Showed amazing patience
  • Smiled constantly
  • Treated every customer like he or she was special
  • Treated every request like it was their delight to honor it
  • Acted happy to be there

Does your staff act that way at 8:30pm on a Saturday night? They should. Chris & Laura figured out how to get their staff to do it. You can, too.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS It starts with hiring and continues with training. The staff Chris & Laura hired have the character traits necessary to be helpful and patient. The next time you hire, choose the traits over the experience. You can teach them the rest.

PPS The Renaissance Festival featured some wonderful lessons, too. The attention to detail of the costumes, accents, and language added to the fun of the day. And there is nothing better than topping off any event with a turkey drumstick smoked to perfection.

PPPS My younger son went with the building brick candies, candy pumpkins, cake batter balls, and candied orange slices. My older son did a jaw breaker on a stick, a gigantic pixie stick, and building brick candies. Absolute heaven!

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