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December 27, 2005

Sorry, we're closed

At 6:30 pm my wife called the local kitchen shop to ask when they closed.

"8:00 pm" was the answer.

After dinner she went out the door to quickly pick up a gift that I had seen there the night before. After parking and running through the rain she arrived at the door at 7:47 pm to find the shop closed.

Why was she surprised? It was rainy, and dark, and most of the other shops in the boutiquey neighborhood had closed at 6 or 7. How much business would it cost to close a little early?

A lot. Because next time my wife won't bother with the little kitchen shop. She is more likely to head straight to Bed Bath & Beyond where they are open the hours they post and don't kick you out if you linger a bit.

Honoring your posted hours is not a little-local-store versus big-national-chain issue. I have sat in a Dairy Queen at 9:05 pm and watched the staff dismiss incredulous customer after incredulous customer because, despite the 10 pm close time posted on the door, "We close at 9 pm in the winter."

Honoring your posted hours is about being trustworthy and respecting your customers. It is the absolute minimum standard for a retail business. Padding your hours like Starbucks, which opens ten minutes early and closes ten minutes late, delights instead of annoys customers. Weren't you grateful the last time you rushed to get somewhere before they closed and were let in 5 minutes after closing time?

Posted by Bob Pritchett at December 27, 2005 06:15 AM

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What a great idea Bob. Come in early, and stay late and be trustworthy. Outstanding idea, and it says a lot about the attitude of your organization if you have people who willingly do this, without being asked (or told) about this "policy."

Posted by: Phil Gerbyshak at January 1, 2006 08:43 PM

Phil - you're wrong about "if you have people who willingly do this". It should be corporate policy to require that customers be accomodated at opening/closing.

Posted by: Marv at January 2, 2006 11:08 AM

Wish I had a nickel for every time I've shown up at the door of a retailer a few minutes before they open, only to have one of the staff mouth to me "We're not open yet!" from the other side of the locked door! I usually don't wait until they are "officially" open.

Posted by: John at January 2, 2006 11:39 AM

great post. i have to agree with John - stores that won't "open" 1 minute early usually don't get my business further.

i was just at a local boutique and i think we walked in at the closing time if not just a few minutes after and they didn't rush us, but actually helped us and offered up some info on future sales. i will go back there.

Posted by: dieselboi at January 3, 2006 11:41 AM

Not honoring posted hours of operation - opening late and closing early - is probably my biggest pet peeve. When this REALLY drives me up the wall is when its a small to mid-sized business that's doing so, and I can tell you I don't think its ever been the owner who's responsible. When I encounter this, I talk to a manager or the principal. It doesn't ALWAYS make a difference for me, but sometimes those few minutes will determine whether the sale CAN be made, not just if it WILL be made...

Posted by: Chris at January 8, 2006 08:50 PM

Well as a person in retail, I find it highly annoying when the same customers come in eigh minutes after closing every night. I takes 15 minutes to shut down one machine for the night and we only have 45 minutes to get out the store. I think people that come into stores early/late have no consideration for people they consider "under" them and are on earth to serve thier every whim. Obviously these people are the one who never worked in retail.

Posted by: Niki at April 20, 2006 01:37 PM

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