The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Dara Samuel: Who you gonna call?

  • Real customer service, the kind those of us over 50 remember, seems to be a thing of the past
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  • Real customer service, the kind those of us over 50 remember, seems to be a thing of the past, except in remote cases.  I remember the days when gas was pumped, windshields were washed, and tires were checked, for free.  (Of course I remember when gas was .15 a gallon too).   Now we pump our own gas, rarely (physically) wash the windshield, and never check the air in the tires until we can feel them going flat.   Of course it’s all because of the better pricing we have nowadays that prevents the stores from actually “giving” us the extra’s like good customer service.  It costs money to hire folks just to take care of customer’s needs.    That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.
                    Few places can you find carry-out service for your grocery purchases – and don’t expect it at big box stores (for sure) because they consider the “savings” you get should more than make up for the customer service you don’t get.   Well, maybe not, at least for this old Gal, and a lot other old guys and gals out there.   Younger folks don’t even expect good customer service.  They’ve never experienced it so they don’t actually know what it is to begin with.
                Customer service is only one of the reasons I enjoy shopping our small-town, Mom and Pop stores most.  It’s nice to be greeted with a smile and a “Hello” every now and then.  It’s nice to be able to find a clerk who is more than willing to assist and one who knows something about the items they sell.   Most importantly, it’s nice to know I’m going to get a return on the money I spend locally.
                Perhaps the most important reason I prefer to shop locally is that I’m controlling, somewhat, where my tax dollars will be spent.
    For instance, who’re you gonna call when there’s a fire or other emergency at your house?   My bet is you’d dial 911 which will, in turn, contact your local ambulance, police or fire department.   You’re not going to call an emergency service in another county - you want the closest available service, the fastest service available if you have an emergency.   Spending your money in another county helps improve the service to those in that county.  It helps them buy newer and more modern facilities and equipment to better serve their communities.  The same goes for public schools, senior services, street maintenance, street lights, parks, libraries, and other publicly-used services. 
    Page 2 of 2 - Spending your tax dollars in your community also helps keep several people in your community employed.  Just by filling the jobs in the areas listed above, you create and maintain approximately 50 jobs
                I realize there are “gaps” in the fence where a certain item might not be available locally and we have no choice but to head to another town or to the internet to find it.   However, in all actuality, it’s pretty darn difficult to think of anything you cannot buy locally.  I also realize we all need a change of pace occasionally so it’s nice to head out of town for a break.
    I’m reminded of something I recently read from a lady who found out the hard way she really didn’t have to drive an hour to find what she was looking for.    The lady told about needing lawn mower blades for her husband’s lawnmower service.  Always in the past she drove an hour to a large box store to get the blades for him.  However, after one of her drives for parts, she found the big box store was out of what she needed.  So, when she came back into town, she called the local motorcycle dealer who also sells mowers.  Sure enough, they had the blades in stock and for less money. 
                In conclusion, providing good customer service is still important.  That’s one of the main reasons people enjoy shopping, and shopping local can definitely be translated into dollars and cents.  
    Cleburne County Economic Developer Dara Samuel of Heber Springs writes her “Let’s Talk” column on Fridays.  She can be reached at 300 W. Main in Heber Springs and at 501-362-8402.
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