If you are like me, hospitality is one of those things that I have a great desire to reach out and extend but sometimes wonder where to start or get shy about the reaching out part. Yes, it was a bit out of my comfort zone to walk into a store and offer them an apple pie! I was nervous! But, I also knew the idea was on my heart for a reason.
Since so many of you were curious about the reactions - here is a bit more info!
I have wanted to do something like this for these three particular stores for a while. I hadn't really decided what or when. But, after reading this book - I knew it was time to take some action.
I did have one problem, though. I don't always receive friendly service and how would I present something like this without lying or having false motives? I sincerely did just want to do something nice for the employees of the stores - but I knew I could not truthfully say, "thank you for serving me with kindness" or for being so nice or anything like that!
I think my biggest goal was to come right out and say that I know I am not the easiest customer to help (just the logistics of coupons, rebates, sales), I will question a price if I don't think it rang up right. If I don't get my rebate for a certain item, I will return it. I know this is hard for them.
So, I wanted to acknowledge this and hopefully allow them to see that I am not trying to do anything to make their lives harder - in fact, I'd like to make it a little better just for one moment on one day.
I worked on a draft of a note I would include and here is what I eventually came up with:
Dear Walgreens, CVS or Rite Aid,Here is how this played out - I had prepared my pies on Sunday evening. I chose pies because I still had lots of apple pie filling in my cupboard! And, I had three disposable pie plates - coincidence? I think not.
I am a regular customer in your store and I am appreciative and thankful for the opportunity to come in for sale items on a nearly weekly basis. My family and many others greatly benefit from these sales! I realize it is more work for the cashier to help a customer like me who is planning my trip around sales, rebates and coupons. Without each of you working here - I would not have the opportunity to stretch my dollars as far. I thank you for the part you play in serving our family.
I counted out plates, napkins and plastic forks or spoons and a plastic knife for each store and put these in a small paper bag. I didn't want to create any extra work for them. So, providing everything they would need to enjoy it and that was easily disposed of seemed the best choice. I did not buy anything extra for this - just went through what I already had and made it work.
Store Number 1: CVS - I walked in with my pie and little paper bag (oh, and my four transaction list for shopping!) and went up to the counter. I saw a cashier I have had multiple times before and I said something like, "I am a regular customer here and I appreciate the opportunity to shop here - I made you a pie to enjoy. Thank you!"
There were two cashiers standing there and another customer. The cashier who I did not recognize was just speechless. She made some comment about how nice that was and the other gal said, "We have the best customers." The man next to me was pretty quiet too until the cashier told him I had brought them a pie. I moved on and let her assist him ~ and you know what? It felt really good to do this! Now I was energized for the next store.
I made my selections and headed for the register. The cashier I was not as familiar with was just floored at how much I got for how little and said, "How do you know how to read the coupons like that?" I admitted to her that it is a lot of work and I do spend time on Sunday afternoon planning out my shopping trips. It's worth it!
Store Number 2: Rite Aid - Again, I just walked right in with my pie and bag and saw two cashiers standing right by the door. One I'd never seen before (turns out he was in training as a new employee) and the other one I'd had a couple of times. I started to get shy - and just put the pie and bag in my cart as they seemed to be discussing something and I didn't want to make it awkward.
When the conversation was finished, I was still right up front - so I just walked up to the lady and said I had made them a pie just to thank them for the opportunity to shop there - I am a regular customer and I hoped they enjoyed it.
She didn't even look at me. She could not seem to take her eyes off the note I'd written as she was reading every word. I don't think she really knew quite what to do. She did thank me then.
When I went up to check out, they were both there again and she made a mention to the gentleman that I had brought them a pie. I thanked them again and said I hoped they enjoyed it. I was trying not to belabor the thank you's and oh, that is so nice - the point here was that they felt appreciated.
Store Number 3: Walgreens - Ok, I was nervous about this one. They aren't very friendly to me in here and I just wanted this to come across right! There was a long line at the check out, so I put the pie in my cart and started my shopping. I walked down through cosmetics and saw a gal I knew was a manager. She was emptying a shelf onto a cart - I just stopped and gave her my little spiel - I'm a regular customer and just want you to know I appreciate being able to shop here - I hope you enjoy your pie.
She just stared at me with her mouth hanging open and said something I won't repeat. Clearly, she was shocked. She thanked me and vanished into the back room with it. I did not see her again - but, I do hope it brightened her day.
I think that sometimes people who work in stores don't really understand the sales and coupons and rebates. I think sometimes they feel like we are sort of ripping them off. You know, I hope this was one small step toward changing that and giving something back to them. There is nothing wrong with shopping smart - but not everyone understands that. And, sometimes when we don't understand something we can feel threatened by it. Maybe this will begin a small seed of change in thought sprouting in their minds.
Regardless, they were served a blessing and you never know how God is going to use even the smallest thing when we obey Him. I love to think of the chain reaction of something like this. Just think - you go into a store and a manager is grumpy, so the employees are probably a bit on edge. Someone steps out in an act of kindness and suddenly they thaw around the edges a little. Maybe they smile or are kind to one of their employees and it becomes a cycle that improves all day.
Perhaps some of you remember reading in one of the Mitford books about Puny making a bunch of apple pies and Father Tim running around delivering them! Think of the happiness and joy that spread! After reading that one time, I baked a few pies and took them to our dentist office and our church office.
I know how much I love an encouraging word or someone acknowledging my work - just because we don't know those who wait on us in stores doesn't make them any less desiring of this as well.