|A Tremendously Popular Farmer's Market in Guadalupe, San Jose Costa Rica|
A number of years ago I was taking a class in sales at a community college and something the instructor said has stuck with me all these years. He repeated a quote that went something like this, “Love people and use things – not love things and use people.”
I can’t help but think first of all how true that statement is, of how important it is to follow that adage in order to establish healthy relationships both in our home lives and in business. Then I can’t help but think of how far we have gotten away from that principle; it seems these days that it’s all about the bottom line, and that people have taken a back seat to profits or things if you wish.
My purpose for writing this series is not to tear down the supermarket chains; they have their place and we would be hard-pressed to survive without them. My intent instead is to remind them that the customer is number one and that it is a privilege to do business with them, not the other way around. It all begins in how you treat people. It seems that in their haste to maximize profits they do so at the expense of customer service. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that the real way to maximize profits is to value the customer and not just with words but with actions. I realize it has to be very difficult for a mega-store employee to have much passion for their job when first of all they are treated like a number and second of all they have no vested interest in the products they are responsible for. It’s pretty hard to be passionate about anything when the only ones profiting are shareholders and executives. So relax HMCS employees, I don’t hold those upside down smiles against you; they are understandable.
In stark contrast to the HMCS’s are the farmer’s markets. My other intent for writing this blog is to support them and to support all grassroots businesses who are trying to get a foothold in the “American Dream!” As I walk through the aisles of these markets the positive energy is invigorating. Here I see people who are truly passionate about their product(s). They should be, in most cases they are the entrepreneur responsible for the development, manufacture, and marketing of their product; it is their dream, their passion! When I ask someone about the tomatoes they grew, or the granola they made, or the honey they processed I can hear the excitement in their voices as they tell me all about why theirs in the best, and what they do to make it that way. They want me to be their customer because they feel there is something about their product that is beneficial to me; they are applying the “Love People” principle to their business plan and they in turn are successful.
|The Phoenix Public Market|
I am sitting here right now writing this blog and am eating some of the best salsa I have ever had; I can’t help but think that the most important ingredient for making this salsa taste so great is love. I know a little bit about the gentleman who created it, nurtured it, and perfected it. I know that he has won awards with it. I know that it is something that he has developed over many years and that he has always strived to make it better. I also remember, most of all, that he took the time to share all of this with me in the middle of a crowded market because he valued me as a customer. In turn, he has established a loyal patron.
I recently was talking to an acquaintance of how the corporations have monopolized many of the industries in this country and around the world. I mentioned my displeasure at how I feel they have been taking advantage of consumers and of how they are gouging us and selling us inferior products. I spoke with him about corporate downsizing, about putting more of a burden on fewer employees to increase the bottom line, and I chatted with him about the perils of outsourcing and about how we need to put the economy back in the hands of the people. His reply was that it was only going to get worse, and I can most certainly understand his sentiment, but I know better because I have seen the passion and excitement of not just the vendors at the markets but the patrons too. I have witnessed first hand the popularity of the Farmer’s Markets and can see that we are on the verge of something exciting and that the grassroots businesses will thrive again. Things will get better because no matter what, the customer is always first, and they will always go where they are loved!
Until the next time, happy gardening!