Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked managers and owners of small businesses on Durham’s Ninth Street what they do to provide strong customer service during the busy holiday shopping season.
• “The main thing is having a veteran staff, having people who are knowledgeable and who are well read with books, and certainly have those people on the floor,” said Wander Lorentz de Haas, weekend manager at the Regulator Bookshop.
• “We have extra staff, more staff per shift, and we actually have in the works to partner with local nonprofits to do some gift wrapping on the weekend,” said Jennifer Cahn, owner of Zola Craft Gallery. Cahn said she also makes sure the staff is trained and knowledgeable and that merchandise is stocked.
• “I try to make sure that everybody who is working, as much as I can, can take a little bit of a break,” said Carol Anderson, owner of Vaguely Reminiscent, a women’s clothing, accessories and unique gifts shop. Anderson also makes sure that workers are drinking water throughout the day, she said, adding that often customers’ understanding and patience is a resource that is reflected by Anderson and her staff.
• “Pretty much the same way we do during the non-busy shopping season, paying attention to their needs, answering questions appropriately,” said Donna Frederick, owner of The Play House Toy Store. “Even though we may be busy, we still give the customer the individual attention that they need to pick out the age-appropriate gift.”
• “We do overlap hours so that we have extra people there in the middle of the day,” said Emily Wexler, who co-owns clothing, accessories, yarn and knitting supplies store, Cozy, with Deb Nickell. “Both Deb and myself work shifts ourselves so the owners are in the store, which I think makes a difference. It puts a face to the business.”