You’re Welcome. Maybe Not.

Probably the most obvious “rule” of retail marketing is to be friendly. If you want to sell something — particularly something that people don’t truly need, or for which there are many competing options — you have to make people well-disposed toward you before they will consent to give you their money. Sounds simple. Probably everyone who owns a tourist-oriented store in downtown Camden would agree in principle. And yet many of them ignore it in practice.

This kind of sign is all too common:

Don't Do Anything signDon’t do this. Don’t do that. They seem to like dogs, who will inevitably do doggy-type stuff, more than they like people doing people-kinds-of-things.

Here’s another:

No photography sign

No “welcome,” or “please come in.” Instead, right at eye level on the entry door, they’re telling me that I shouldn’t share their precious fucking photons.

These messages are all too common along Main St. in Camden. But right across the street from those two, I came across this one:

Welcoming sign on store

Ah, someone gets it. “You are welcome,” along with whatever you happen to have in your hands at the time.

Let’s think about two scenarios:

A. You have an open-store policy with no food or drink restrictions. 100 people carrying ice creams or soda enter your store. How many of them will: i) mess up a single piece of merchandise; AND ii) refuse to pay for it? What’s the wholesale value of the merchandise you can no longer sell?

B. You have a no-food-or-drinks policy. 100 people who are carrying ice creams or sodas see the sign and don’t come in because you made it inconvenient for them (they’d have to either ditch the snack, gobble it down on the sidewalk before they can enter, or come back later), or because you made them feel unwelcome. How much stuff would those 100 customers have bought had they come in the store, and what is its retail value?

 I venture to guess that the number in Scenario B is considerably higher than Scenario A — in other words, that the value of sales lost by a closed policy is far greater than the value of merchandise lost with an open policy.

Bottom line: don’t be so damn fussy and possessive. Minimize restrictions, and be welcoming to customers.