Two business lessons from a small town store

Todd Holder rings up our soaps and lotions. Photo by Becky McCray.

Todd Holder rings up soaps and lotions for my sister Connie Foote. Photo by Becky McCray.

Two business lessons from a local business:

  1. You have to be open to make the sale.
  2. Pay attention to the customer in front of you.

My hometown Alva, Oklahoma, (population 6,200) holds a monthly first Friday Art Walk downtown. It’s primarily about fine arts displays, but a few businesses are starting to be open as well. Local pillar of the community Holder Drug is open til 7, same as every weeknight.

My sister and I went downtown for the art displays, then dropped in to Holder’s right at 7 as they were closing up to drop off a prescription. Todd Holder was counting out his cash drawer, but stopped to help us. Pharmacist Verne Metcalf immediately started filling my prescription while Todd showed us their new line of handcrafted soaps and lotions from a small town Colorado business. When Todd’s cell phone rang, it was our local State Rep, who happens to also be Speaker of the House now. Todd said, “oh, he can wait.” We all laughed, and Todd stayed talking with us. My sister and I left with lots of new lotions and soaps, and I got my prescription. Todd went back to counting the drawer 10 or 15 minutes later than he planned, and I guess he called our state representative back later.

1. You have to be open to make the sale.
It didn’t matter that Holder’s isn’t a fine arts store. We came in from art walk and spent money. Be open late.

2. Pay attention to the customer in front of you.
Sure, Todd could have taken that important phone call, but it made us feel important that he didn’t. Keep your eyes on the person who honored you by stepping into your store.

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.
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