Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What does the customer want?

Wawa my local convenience store just took a turn for the worse. The gasoline is still as cheap as the competition, the milk is still there in the cooler and the very important (to my caffeine addiction) coffee is still hot and fresh. In the world where price, product, and location are paramount the departure of Pete the coffee guy brought home the loss we have suffered in a work were the people at our local businesses are faceless and basically interchangeable.

Pete, a retired machinist, worked four mornings a week at the Wawa from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. with the sole job of making coffee and caring for the supplies. Over the past two years or so Pete and I have talked and developed into friends. I looked forward to hearing a friendly, "Hey, howya doing?" while poring my coffee or Pete replacing that pot of coffee in my hand with a fresh one. The guy knew my favorite flavor and would stop lean over the counter to have a brief conversation. Talking to Pete was the bright spot in my morning commute.

This points out a change in our fast pace world where we are all a slave to price and convenience. I include myself in that group although, I might make some excuses that I'm not too much in that group. Is yearning for a sense of community enough?

My late uncle had a great relationship with a service station years ago. Even when the owner moved out of Martinsburg, WV to a location by I-81 five miles away he would go there for gas and service. The pay off for my uncle was a reliable and attentive mechanic while the owner got a very loyal customer. When I buy gas here in 2006 the conversation is rather one sided with me cursing the machine wanting me to swipe the credit card a second time.

Two parting shots/thoughts---
I never cursed at or about Pete.
Time to do some cyber Christmas shopping now to get the free shipping.