On a recent trip I managed to get some spare time, which is quite a rarity. I decided to head into the local downtown area. The city wasn’t that big, but it had a thriving downtown with a lot of local small businesses. As you may know from reading some of my other posts, I love Vintage stores and browsing and shopping in them.

I was delighted to find a large vintage store almost as soon as I hit the downtown area. It was a two-story building with lots of interesting displays in the window. In essence, it was everything you’d be looking for if you were a vintage shopper like me.

The story changed as soon as I walked in. The person behind the counter didn’t greet me but simply hollered at me that they would help with anything I wanted to see. Ok so perhaps we should start right there. While assuming the sale is a great sales tactic, saying hello first is even better. Let me get my feet in the door and get my bearings before you decide I should buy something.

As I started to wander down the aisles I noticed a sign, printed on a home printer on regular paper laying on one of the displays. It read:

No talking on your phone, No Texting, No taking pictures, No reading, No sitting.

As someone who lives on his phone, I was a little taken aback. At first I thought this must be just one vendor inside this huge vintage store, but no, as I progressed around the store these signs were everywhere.

Now, I am all for rules in certain places. Don’t climb on things, don’t let children run around, etc. Those are usually for the safety of your customers and your own piece of mind. But this is a shop, not a library. No talking on the phone? No texting? No pictures? Why would you not want me to send a picture of that amazing desk to my friend who happens to be looking for one?

Needless to say, I left that store without making a purchase. They had placed too many barriers between me and their cash register. A block and a half away I found another vintage store. The difference was immediate. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a warm friendly hello. Customers were strolling around with their phones in hand; I even witnessed someone talking on hers!

The other store not only lost a potential customer, but they lost him to their competitors who were more in tune with who their customers actually are and the realities of those customers’ lives.

What barriers are you putting between yourself and your customers?