Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Convenience Store Culture

In my early years of work at a local TV station, I barely made any money. I saw convenience stores as overpriced money drains that were taboo in my life. It wasn't until marriage, 2 kids, and a "full on" schedule that I began to appreciate convenience store culture. I found myself and the kids stopping in for a pack of gum, a free ICEE post a game, a milkshake after the beach, and now, a decaf coffee with hazelnut syrup (refills only 85 cents!).

I think I get more than 85 cents worth of coffee.  Even after months of not being in the store, I am recognized and noticed.  I receive a feeling of connection. How does this happen in 2 minutes?  I walk in. I pour my coffee.  I pay.  I walk out.  I make a transaction.  85 cents.  A cup of coffee.  What I receive is a transformation - a transformation gifted by the people who work there.

Who works at my corner convenience store? Really happy people! I recently asked if it was part of the job requirement!  There's the woman from Romania who cleans the counter tops and floors.  She calls me "Special" because she thinks I have an interesting way of dressing. The other day, I walked in the store talking on my cell phone dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt.  With her thick accent, she said, "Not special." She cracked me up!

And then there's the cashier who greets you with such strong beams of sunshine and joy-filled comments that you can't help but smile for a good 10 minutes after leaving the store.

These employees do this their entire shift!  They remember the regulars making personal comments. They acknowledge the new customer, showering attention.

Walking in the store at various times of day, I feel like I live in Mayberry or maybe I'm in a Cheers episode.  I am beginning to realize that it's not the decaf I like so much, it's the transformational experience that I quickly receive. The jolt of energy is not from the decaf.  It's from the people - the employees create a ripple effect.  It's pretty addicting - and only 85 cents.