From the desk of Jenny Larson, Supply Buyer& Manager
So in the late 80’s, I, like many, discovered and loved the work of artist Keith Haring—raw, bold, current-his work connected me to the world outside of Wheeling, WV. My mom, armed with an 800-number phonebook found a poster shop in Manhattan that sold his work, as nothing even close could be found at the Ohio Valley Mall. She found a large poster that she knew I would love and ordered it. The sales guy was more than happy to complete the sale and even giftwrap and then my mom said this,
I need this shipped to West Virginia.
Oh ma’am we don’t ship-you’ll have to come in and pick it up
But I live in West Virginia…
Is that in Brooklyn ma’am-can you take the #whatever and then crossover on the #whatever to get to the subway to get to Manhattan?
No, it’s a different state-in between Ohio and Pennsylvania-just up from Virginia…
I’ve never been out of the City lady, but we don’t ship-you have to pick it up.”
Never out of the city, have you ever had homemade Christmas cookies?
Homemade Christmas cookies? Not sure what you mean, there’s a bodega two doors down-they have cookies-not sure who makes them…I know my mom never made a cookie…”
If I send you some of my homemade Christmas cookies will you send me the poster?
I’ll walk it to the post office myself.
And so she sent him a tin filled with cookies that she made herself. He got them and I got an incredible Christmas present.
I think about this story often for several reasons. It’s hard to remember a time that everyone didn’t ship everything everywhere—I’m sure as this transaction occurred Silicon Valley was forging the trail to e-commerce as we know it today. Look at how far we have come in a pretty short period of time. I am not anti-technology whatsoever but I love the human aspect of this story-I hope as we rely even more on computers that we do not relinquish the human experience completely.
I also love the resolve from this tale. My entire working career has involved customer service and even though my mom was the customer, this story taught me to think outside the box. Often, customer service can be a problem-solving mission-how can you get what your customer needs if there is an issue with shipping or availability or something is time sensitive? I don’t do well with a flat out “no”-not without exploring every avenue. And because online shopping is such a fierce competitor, now more than ever customer service—the human experience is more important than ever. I do appreciate the ease of shopping online but I also love walking through doors into the space of someone’s life work and passion—I appreciate a well done site but I love the smell of a wood sculpture and I have to touch a throw rug—while online shopping is about me-a brick and mortar experience is about both buyer and seller--a connection.
My job allows me to travel a few times a year to shop for the Supply department. I go through a ton of showrooms and touch everything. I think about my customers as I am sifting through trends, colors, textures and lines.
I wonder if they will be surprised at how light something is like I was-or how amazing the color combo on a ceramic is…again, a connection.
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping to all this season. I hope you find what you looking for and if you are lucky, I hope you make a connection-with cookies or without.