Do you remember the days when businesses put customer service first? No, I don’t either, not really. I vaguely remember going to a shoe store on Main Street, Florsheim Shoes, and feeling like a princess because the man who worked at the store made abundant trips to the backroom to get shoes of all colors, styles, and sizes after measuring my foot and discussing my size and needs with my mom. I remember what seemed like a thousand boxes of shoes scattered about and having to choose only one pair. However, more of my childhood memories consist of Payless and Shoe Show where there were boxes upon boxes of shoes on shelves, and it was pretty much self-serve. After all these years, I still remember that shoe store on Main Street and how cared for I felt when I was there. I haven’t felt that way in a business in a very long time.
Yesterday, The Bibbed Wonder sent me on an errand to complete while I was out and about getting my hair cut. First, I hate it when he sends me on errands. I am always armed with pictures, notes of who to ask for, broken pieces of whatever needs to be replaced, and strict instructions I usually forget by the time I turn the car on and choose my radio station. Secondly, I am always sent into what I view as “Man World.” “Man World” are areas, stores, businesses that I view mainly occupied by men who tolerate the intrusion of the opposite sex into their little world, and the treatment of such is a grab bag. Sometimes I am met with condescension, sometimes it’s obvious mere tolerance, sometimes it’s overly friendly, and I feel like I need to take a shower when I have completed my errand…however, I am closer to 50 than not. Those days are fewer and farther between. If The Bibbed Wonder didn’t go out of his way for me on a daily basis, I would protest these trips into “Man World.”
Yesterday, I was given two Ziploc bags, each holding a drain plug. Each bag had the number of replacement plugs I was to purchase written on it in Sharpie. I was instructed to stop at a local hardware store, Keith’s Specialty, on my way home from my hair cut. Keith’s Specialty has been in business for as long as I can remember. My dad was a frequent shopper there and my bibbed wearing buddy goes there for various needs and man related projects. I wanted to protest, but I refrained, took my instructions and broken pieces, and thought ridiculously mean thoughts about having to do the bidding of The Bibbed Wonder.
My hair was cut, my errands were completed, and it was time to enter “Man World” and do what my dear husband needed doing. Keith’s Specialty looks like a house and a large garage located just off Route 119. I was so intent on looking for the driveway; I passed it…sigh. I turned around, drove back, and pulled into the parking lot. All the while taking note of all the professional trucks sitting outside and braced myself to enter “Man World.” As I approached the door, a nice gentleman saw me coming and opened the door for me, greeting me with a pleasant, “Good morning.” Seeing my hands full of expired plumbing sundries, he asked me if he could help me find anything. I handed him my broken and quite yucky drain plugs and told him what I needed. He asked me to follow him through a labyrinth of fittings, parts, bins, and shelves. It was really quite charming. Everything is painted one clean cream color, everything is tidy, labeled, and neat, and it was all very professional.
However, the customer service I received was impeccable. There were guys everywhere asking for this and that, filling orders, helping customers, going up and downstairs. No one was idle; it was like a busy ant farm. The gentleman who was helping me was so very helpful. He went to the section of the store that housed the drain plugs, looked at what I brought, pulled out several boxes, looked on the computer, and then brought a second gentleman in for a consultation. They asked me questions for clarification, made a few jokes, and treated me with respect. I had their undivided attention for almost fifteen minutes for three drain plugs.
My purchase total with a mere $6.48. They were only able to replace one of my drain plugs but…and this is classy, this is the cherry on top, this is why I will look for reasons to go back to Keith’s Specialty for every single thing that is hardware-related; they told me to go to Shank’s Plumbing in Indiana, that they would probably have my replacement drain plug. They bagged my drain plugs in an obviously used/recycled bag…again, no pretense, nothing fancy but not wasteful, frugal, and good for the environment. They told me to have a nice day, and one of them walked me to the door and opened it for me. The parking lot was teeming with company vehicles. The store was filled with customers; I am sure they have accounts in the thousands of dollars. I spent $6.48 and was treated like a respected and valued customer. Not only was I treated like a respected and valued customer, but I was also treated like a lady. This is more of what this world needs. This is how all businesses should treat their customers. This is the level of care every single business should strive to provide for its customers.
Keith’s Specialty, you are a class act. Not only are you knowledgeable, helpful, and professional, you are classy and unpretentious. You made my day and demonstrated that there are good business role models out there. Kudos to you and the people who make it happen. If you are anywhere near Home, Pennsylvania, and you are in need of plumbing or hardware supplies, I strongly recommend making the drive. You will not find this level of professionalism, service, or knowledge at any big box store. The big box stores could care less about your needs, your care, or their employee's lack of commitment or inability to help. Keith’s Specialty is the perfect example of why it is important and why we should all shop small.
So dear reader, as always, stay safe, stay smart, shop small, it is so worth it, go to Keith’s Specialty for all your hardware needs, and keep washing your hands. Funny, Keith’s Specialty can help you keep the water running to do so…insert winky face.