There always seems to be at least one thing that gets forgotten when we go on vacation.
We just went camping as a family, and sure enough, we forgot to pack our new bottle of sunscreen, and our old one was just about empty and wasn’t going to be enough for the entire trip.
So we decided to go on a family adventure to find ourselves some sunscreen. Going without sunscreen was not an option for us.
We saw a gas station about 5 miles away from the campground, so that was our first stop. No luck. It’s the end of summer here, so they didn’t have any left. They suggested we check the local grocery store.
And that’s where our real adventure began.
This was no typical grocery store. This was Baum’s Mercantile, a truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and ended up being the highlight of our camping trip for me.
Most small town grocery stores are simply over-priced places to get the bare essentials. Not Baum’s Mercantile. They have taken a relatively boring business and made it truly remarkable.
Here’s 3 things I learned from Baum’s Mercantile about how to make your business remarkable.
Create a memorable and welcoming environment for your clients
Baum’s is more than just a grocery store. It’s set up more like an old-fashioned general store with lots of local culture pieces around the store.
It was a small store with tomatoes growing in the flower beds in the front window and beer and baseball signs hanging as well (this is Wisconsin – we love our beer and our baseball team, which ironically is named the “Brewers” showing just how much beer influences our culture, for better or worse.)
You walk in and there’s even a deer head hanging over the register. Wisconsin is full of deer hunters, so this is another fitting local culture piece.
There were 3 little kid carts that were perfect for my kids to use as we searched for what we needed. As a mom with young kids, I appreciated this immensely as taking little kids into a new store can be quite the frustrating task. My kids drove them around and loved exploring the store with them.
Not only that, but we were greeted by John, the owner. He truly made the experience memorable.
John was jovial, helpful, and interacted with the kids in such a fun and light-hearted way that they were comfortable with his presence immediately.
He was helpful in pointing me towards the sunscreen we needed, and chatted with us during our visit (the obvious tourist as I’m sure he knows most of his regular small-town residents). You can see him in the photo at the top of the post.
When we were checking out, he asked us if he could give each of our kids a Twinkie as a treat, on the house. The kids were thrilled, and it was a nice gesture that you don’t see in a typical modern big-box grocery store.
Invite your clients to be a part of something bigger
While I was chasing the kids around with their little carts, I heard John tell my husband to follow him as there was something he “had” to show him.
This display, hanging prominently in his store, is what my husband had to see.
John told him the story about how whenever people ask him where he’s from, they never know where he’s talking about.
So he had a bumper sticker made up that says “Where the Hell is Pittsville, WI?” that he gives to people when they visit. He also had “Where the Heck…” for people like me that don’t swear, making sure that he catered to us conservative folks.
He then encouraged us to take a photo with the bumper sticker somewhere and send it back to him, and he’d put it on his website and maybe even the in-store display.
He has photos of that bumper sticker from around the world. No kidding. Go take a look for yourself.
John has such a fun and encouraging personality that I couldn’t help but want to do just that. I put the bumper sticker in our glove box so we can pull it out when we go somewhere fun.
Educate and Entertain your clients
Not only were we entertained by his fun and joking personality and drawn into his quest to get the bumper sticker out there, he taught us a bit about the local claim to fame.
John taught us that Pittsville was the in the exact center of the state and where to go to see the plaque that sits in the exact center.
When we finally left, he was out on the front steps with a garden hose spraying people he knew with water as they drove by (see the first photo in the post).
While this sounds like it might annoy people, everyone we saw go by seemed to wave and smile at his antics and enjoy it. You could tell that he was known and loved as one of the town’s jokers.
My husband and I were highly amused by the whole thing. Who does that? John does, and the people seem to love it.
So how can you make your business remarkable?
There are thousands and thousands of photography businesses out there, many of which look just like each other.
Grocery stores are one of the most boring types of businesses out there, yet Baum’s Mercantile managed to find a way to make it a fun experience that I can’t stop thinking about.
What can you do to make people rave about your business? Is there some sort of fun story that you can invite your clients to be a part of, such as taking a bumper sticker around the world and then being recognized for it?
Leave a comment and share how you are setting yourself apart.