Originally Published in The Ohio Bar Journal(Lawyers not Bartenders!)/2001
Well the holidays are swiftly approaching and stores are filled once again with people wishing to create a bit of magic in their lives through the time honored custom of gift giving! Many times I found that choosing the right gift was confusing for my customers, and my goal was always to create an environment such that all who shopped at my store were thrilled and inspired by what they saw. I’ve discovered in this age of mass marketing and mail order that there is a renewed hunger for the tactile experience of purchasing a lovely gift! Although the the experience of internet shopping can be alot of fun and really convenient, the very personal experience of being well served in a beautiful store filled with gorgeous gifts can't be denied. Yet sadly, the thought of shopping during the holiday season fills many hearts with dread, but I truly believe that gift giving during the holidays can be the most fun experience of all!
The vision of any great store hasn’t been fully expressed unless it’s customers feel cared for, understood and related to in a way that satisfies the heartfelt desire to create the gift of an experience, through the giving of a present, whether the recipient is a business acquaintance or a close intimate companion. I know that my choice of the word “experience” in relationship to gift giving may be confusing for some, and yet for me that is precisely where most retailers today fall short. It’s as if they don’t see the tremendous opportunity that they have to serve their community through the simple act of bringing elegance into the world through the wonderful gifts that they sell. It is my desire to create for you a new “experience”, one that is based on the quality of service, and the nurturing of beauty and uniqueness, all things important for sustaining our creative lives. I believe that price comparison shopping and mass market retailing are the by product’s of a society starving for substantive experiences and joyous moments. Really great stores have beautiful gifts at prices to suit every wallet! There is (and always will be!) something quite exquisite about a hand selected gift from a specialty store, chosen with care, then beautifully wrapped and delivered! Some of my best memories of our store are of Christmastime, when our wrapping room looked like Santa’s workshop, with all of our customer’s running back to request special gift papers and fancy bows! These aren’t experiences that you can have anywhere else other than a jewel box of a store, where the help knows you by name and just how many cubes of sugar that you like for your tea! A wonderful store becomes the lifeblood of its community, constantly giving back, always there when a customer needs a donation for a cherished organization, or an advertisement for a school football calendar!
The very act of purchasing a wonderful gift for someone that you love in a fabulous store is filled with a sense of renewel for the relationship, excitement and creativity!
For instance, when a young man wishes to purchase a piece of jewelry for his fiancé, he isn’t the least bit interested in the cut ,color and clarity of the diamond that he is purchasing, or the weight and carat value of the gold that it’s set in. Those are simply the facts, and any GIA trained gemologist can produce those details. They aren’t the most important thing and selling as if they are just cheapens his experience. What’s really at stake for him are the tears in her eyes as she opens his gift, and the possibilities that he’s created for their life together. He’s got it all planned ..He’s asking her to marry him at Christmas, her favorite time of the year and he wants to pick the piece of jewelry that really reflect his feelings for her and his dreams of her response. If he doesn’t feel as wonderful purchasing it as he does giving it then he’s missed out on an important part of the whole experience. I always felt that if every customer that came into our store didn’t feel as wonderful through the act of giving as they do receiving that we hadn’t done our jobs.
I have heard it said that the specialty store is outdated, a relic of the past from a lifestyle that exists for few anymore, and yet people flock to Europe, hungry for this sort of shopping experience! The gorgeous boutiques on the streets of London or Paris continuously give us
us wonderful examples of merchandising. They are lovely to explore, and their seasonal merchandise, always beautifully presented, is a joy to the eye and a truly engaging experience for the customer. Maybe, what we enjoy so much about these stores is that they maintain a natural relationship to the rhythm of the seasons, not the artificially induced shopping cycles that we have created in this country. I really believe that this is the way that a store offers the most significant value to its customers. By keeping the atmosphere relaxed and closely aligned to the natural patterns of our lives, we stay happier and less frantic, and more able to enjoy the true essence of the holiday season!
This holiday season, try to shop in stores that care about you, and the experience that you’ll have sharing yourself with people through the gifts that you choose! Remember, that the gifts that you choose this holiday season or anytime will always convey the essence of you, the gift giver! Gift giving in its purest form is artistically inspired by love and the desire to provide for the recipient a special moment of beauty and timelessness. It is my wish for you this season that your needs for a truly relaxing and wonderful gifting experience are met with elegance, beauty and enchantment, through stores that continue the tradition of providing for you , the customer, all of the quality and expertise that you desire, along with LOTS of fun!
If you remember to request the service and style that you deserve, you will create a space where the exceptional can occur and the possibility of extraordinary retailing and inspired gift giving will continue to exist in the world, through the vision of stores who are committed to providing you with quality and joy for many decades to come!
Glad tidings to all of you, my best wishes for a sensational New Year!