They were back again, the two of them huddled together over my photo album of fancy-dress costumes. These two women were the bane of my life, quaint yes, however, they were the type of annoying customers that any small business has to put up with and usually come as part of the package.
And so, my challenge goes into action. There is a competition to be played out here, it is tiresome and on occasions, I just relentlessly give in and wave my hands in the air because I get bored fighting the fight. Nonetheless, I feel there is a principle at stake and I secretly know who will come out as the winner.
My little fancy dress shop, was narrow, and sandwiched between another shop and a guest house in the seaside town of Minehead, in Somerset. We sold party goods and hired fancy dress costumes to the stream of holidaymakers that visited the town every summer.
Peggy and Bronwen were regular customers. Every year they would come for a fortnight’s holiday and would be guests at the local Butlins camp on our seafront. Their yearly event would be meticulously planned down to the finest detail, except for their fancy-dress costumes, which they needed for a the big party on Friday night.
Now I have nothing against the Welsh, my grandmother came from the Rhonda Valley, so it is in my blood but sometimes the need to pay attention to every detail can confuse matters. I listen to their muffled conversation, lowering their voices and presuming as always, I would not hear them. They were coming up with a cunning plan and their little scheme was to go through all the creative ideas for costumes and then go and buy the items they needed, to make it for themselves. Their logic was that they could get the final result for lesser than the price they would pay to hire a costume.
Well, I was ready, like a bull in a china shop, I could sell them crepe paper, glue, pins, plastic hats, curly wigs and send them up to the charity shop to buy the accessories. My challenge – to get them to spend more than the £10 hire fee.
Now you may be thinking, that is not nice Lauren. The fun for these ladies was in the making and creating their costumes, back in their holiday chalet up to their armpits in sticky back plastic and bin bags. No! No! No! please give me some credit. I’m a creative myself and I had a very good selection of costumes on offer. Some were prize winners.
Peggy and Bronwen were your typical penny pinchers, and they knew it. They never won a prize and when it came to the issue of recycling the said costume on the following morning, they had to pack it in their suitcase and take it home, place it in the spare cupboard. Never to be worn again.’What a waste Bronwen’ I could imagine Peggy saying to her friend, but they would repeat the same mistake the following year. A little bit like YoYo dieting, all that work and no prizes.
What is it that turns certain Joe public to think like Peggy and Bronwen? People who go out of their way to think they can do it better with little or no expertise. I have no problem with creative people who look at something and think they can do a better job, but when it comes to finding a balance, I can spot the penny pinchers a mile off.
I am now in the business of Health, a far cry I know, from Fancy Dress, but we get one life and I believe you should pack as many skills in as you can. Boy, do we have some Peggy’s and Bronwen’s when it comes to nutrition and meal planning though. So if you think you may relate to these lovely wobbly old welsh ladies, take off your dark glasses now.
We promote a meal that can be prepared in less than a minute, it comes with all the ingredients you need to have a balanced diet, and there is no food waste, hardly any washing up and costs less than £3.
However, Peggy and Bronwen insist they can buy all the ingredients, meticulously work out a cunning plan of how to include all the vitamins, protein, fibre, work it all out because they are the experts and know how to eat healthily. Of course, they may succeed, and I wish them well. If they can achieve all that for under £3 and have a support network around them of like-minded people, I will personally give them 1st prize in the competition.
Every day I talk to X Peggy’s and Bronwen’s who have confessed to me that they tried to do it cheaper. They had heard a rumour that our product was expensive, and they listened to every other person who agreed with them rather than listen to the people who had spent two decades perfecting a good product because they wanted it to be the best.
When we start businesses, it is usually because we have a good reason and this company have always said it was their number one priority to provide good health in a simple but effective way. I showed my misguided and sceptical customers how so much easier it could be if they took the time to listen, opened their mind and saw how they could save money and at the same time get the health they so wanted and in some cases, imperative to their wellness and livelihood.
Some Peggie’s even took a step further and saw how they could get food paid for and increased their income just by saying they wanted to know more. Huh! Not penny-pinching, now are we? So a little good news.
Peggy’s other friends have now noticed something different about her. She is glowing and focused and she has invited her friends to join in her success. Bronwen watches and offers her friend support from the side-lines. ‘Butlins again this year Peg?’
Bronwen says ‘Ooh there’s lovely, says Peggy ‘but I have bought myself a bikini for the first time in twenty years and I’m thinking about going to the Maldives!’ Go Peggy!!!!!