$62.50 for a Cup of Tea!? (December 2021)
A few weeks ago my wife and I took our son to one of his hockey games. It’s a regular event this time of year. He has to be there an hour before game time. When the rink is close, one of us will go early and come back home with both of us returning later. Sometimes one of us will run errands with the other driving separately and arriving at game time. But this rink was 45 minutes away so we both went early. With an hour to kill we decided to take a drive around the town of Wentzville. I spotted Ellbee’s General Store and said to my wife, “Let’s stop in, maybe I can get a cup of hot tea.” She said, “That sounds good, I’ll get one, too.”
As we entered, I was surprised at how busy it was. I saw two lines so I chose the shorter of the two. It was the wrong one but the owner smiled and said he would get the tea started and pointed to the other line where he said his wife taking orders. As we waited, my wife picked up a few small items from the shelf near us. A few minutes later, I was invited to the back room to select our tea. Frankly, I didn’t really care which tea but I went anyway. There I noticed various coffees. I can always use another bag of coffee and figured the purchase was a way to help support a small business which I always like doing. The owner took delight in telling me about the selection of coffee beans.
I got back in line as my wife browsed around the store. I added a bottle of soda to my order because it reminded me of what my Aunt Helen and Uncle Emrich used to have on hand when I visited them as a child. My wife came across a book that she thought our son would like for Christmas. I checked out with a grand total of $62.50.
So, what’s the lesson? The lesson is that a business that has a strong offering coupled with great service is likely going to thrive regardless of the environment. Sadly, small stores like this have closed across the country in favor of big box retailers that are one stop shops with cheaper pricing. But in this community, a unique little store with a great selection of products and incredibly friendly service appears to be doing quite well.
This lesson doesn’t just apply to small retail stores but to all businesses. Sure, certain things have gone away but I can think of a number of examples of survivors and the one thing they have in common is above average service and a strong product offering. They are not competing on price alone. Generally, there is room for only one price leader in any particular market and if that’s not you, then you had better find another point of differentiation.
What is your point of differentiation? Why do customers come to you? Do you provide meaningful value in a way that encourages customers to spend more?
By the way, Ellbee’s has a strong on-line store presence so even if you’re not near Wentzville, MO you can still check them out!
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected]
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