The day was cold - 6 above and windy, a slight coating of snow was on the ground, Thinking no one would be out I decided it was a good day to shop. I cleaned the car and off I went. I arrived at the mall and found the store I was looking for and walked in. The clerk sitting behind the counter reading a book barely acknowledged me with a glance and went back to reading. I wandered the aisles for a few minutes and walked up to the counter as I couldn't find what I was looking for. I stood for a minute and finally the clerk looked up and said "are you looking for something" (no I wanted to reply I just enjoy watching you read a book). I asked for the item I was looking for and was told they didn't carry them. I then asked if they could direct me to a store that may. Her indifferent attitude came wafting across the counter as she stated she had no idea who would carry the product I wanted. What I was looking for was a simple old fashion double edge razor. Now I know probably not huge numbers of people use them but I enjoy the shave time, all the scents you can get in shave cream and the smooth shave that the multiple blade razors can't give me. I wandered the mall for a little while longer checking in to several stores I believed might have what I was looking for, Out of the 3 other stores I stopped in only one had a clerk who told me of a store in another mall and told me I could get what I wanted there the others, when they found out they didn't have what I wanted, couldn't have cared less that I was leaving empty handed and went back to chatting with the other clerks or digging at their phones. The other mall was 45 minutes farther away and I just didn't have the time to go and then drive the hour and a half back home. Later that night I sat down in my comfortable chair and within 10 minutes and a few keystrokes ordered exactly what I wanted. Within 5 minutes I had confirmation of my order and much to my surprise within 5 more minutes I had a very nice email from the proprietor thanking me for my order. Two days later my order showed up and when I opened it not only did I get exactly what I ordered but since I was a first time buyer the "shop" sent me a couple of samples to try also. The following day I was out on the road selling again and was talking to an owner who was lamenting the lack of customers. I have been in this store before and wanted to tell him why - his help is less than helpful - but knowing this gentleman the way I do I knew he would be les than receptive. This is not the first time this has happened.
This brings me to my point brick and mortar stores need to give the customer service. Customers today have lots of choices, malls, big box stores, chain stores and more BUT most of all they have the internet. Usually lower prices, order from the comfort of home, huge selections. I like to shop local stores that make me feel good about going in and buying from them. When a customer walks in the door you should greet them with a heartfelt hello - you don't have to hover over them but let them know that you are there to help. If they ask for help don't make them feel like they are an imposition - if you don't have the product they are looking for don't make them feel like they are the bad guy and if they ask who might carry it help them. Make your customer feel good and they'll keep coming back and tell others about your service/product. But most of all remember THEY HAVE A CHOICE.