Looking forward to the holiday season, I know I’ll be spending a lot more time at our store in Kidron. One of my favorite parts of being there is giving store tours. I love the face-to-face interaction with customers. I enjoy answering questions and pointing out unusual “nooks and crannies” stories about our store.
Recently a busload of visitors requested a tour (seriously, it was a busload, I am not using the vernacular as in a “busload of questions”).
Often, when I do a store tour, especially with a large group, I lose half the crowd as they wander through the antique barns that link to form our Kidron store. Sometimes, they’re lost in nostalgia, seeing all the antiques that my dad (and our founder) Jay has collected and and mounted on the walls. Some end up absorbed in a specific department, where they find the kitchen gadget, tool, or stove of their dreams. Some days, at the end of the tour, I look at the group and hardly recognize a single face because so many new shoppers have joined and so many originals are off shopping.
This day was no exception, but I retained about half the original group. As we were wandering through the pantry, which features a number of exclusive, locally-made, handcrafted items, one guest picked up a smallish basket and was rather surprised to see it retailed for just under $40. By the look on her face, I could see she was surprised. After all, I hear that you can pick up a little basket for less than ten bucks at Wal-Mart. (I’d guess, since I don’t shop there).
But when I flipped the basket over, she realized it was signed and dated by the local Amish craftsperson that made it. I mentioned that one of my favorite gifts is to find a basket with a special day, such as September 14, handwritten on the bottom. When you give the present to your mother-in-law, whose birthday is on September 14, it appears that it was made especially for them, on that day.
I then handed the basket to her and when she saw the fine, detailed work, and the sheer weight and substance of it, she understood why Lehman’s prices are not the same as one of the big boxes.
When you price compare, make sure you are comparing apples to apples, or in this case, baskets to baskets. If a chain store is ordering 250,000 of the same shape, size and color from off-shore, and Lehman’s is ordering them one at a time, from a local craftsperson, our lead times may longer, and our prices may higher…and our quality is levels above. You’ll pass a handmade Amish basket from Lehman’s down to your children and grandchildren, because it’ll last.