By Barbara Russek

Have you heard the news? Despite the fact that Covid cases are continuing to go up in our beautiful Grand Canyon state, Governor Doug Ducey declared on September 24, “Arizona’s economy is open…” The conundrum for store and shop owners now is how to coax skittish customers back, many of whom have been sheltering-in-place for months. One way that won’t cost business owners a dime is through outstanding customer service.

Virtually all business owners tell the public that they offer great customer service. But do they? Sad to say, several recent experiences I’ve had indicate not so much. In many stores I observe such things as one register open with customers queuing up in a long line, even though there might be 10 registers in the store; being ignored when I come in; my name not mentioned by businesses where I am a regular and more. And while we’re on the subject, it seems that the adage “the customer is always right” has gone the way of cassette tapes and vinyl records; like the resurgence of vinyls, should that concept be making a comeback?

But rather than dwell on irritants and inconveniences we customers experience when out for a little retail therapy, I’d like to give a shout out to a few stores, where excellent customer service has been extended to me.

A few weeks ago, I wandered into Wide/Wide by Alan’s Shoes at 7366 N. Oracle Rd., #140. It must have been my lucky day, as the first pair of shoes I spied was exactly what I was looking for… and at half-price to boot! But the store didn’t have my size. “No problem,” manager Christian assured me after checking the computer. “They have your size at another Alan’s. We can have them here for you by lunch time tomorrow.” I requested a phone call to let me know that the shoes had arrived. Christian assured me that he would make that call. As I was leaving, he offered me a cold bottle of water, which was most welcome on a warm September morning. Early afternoon the following day, I received the promised call and picked up my new shoes. Manager Christian shows by example what every shopping experience should be.

Next door to Wide/Wide by Alan’s Shoes is Good Threads Boutique, the high-end version of Goodwill Industries, at 7366 N. Oracle Rd., #190. A devout thriftaholic, I am a known quantity at Good Threads. As soon as she saw me Laura, an associate at the spacious store, came up to within six feet of me, greeted me by name and welcomed me back. She then added, “You were missed during the summer; I asked the manager and other employees if they had seen you.” Though I left the store without making a purchase, Laura warmly wished me a good day and added, “See you next time!” I left Good Threads feeling upbeat, because of the appreciation Laura showed for my simply showing up.

A shout out for great customer service would not be complete without mentioning a few other people who perked up my day and my spirits during the stressful corona virus summer of 2020:
*The restaurant owner who saw me, a regular, come in while he was in conversation with another customer. A master of multitasking, the owner continued talking while waving hello to me. That simple gesture meant I was appreciated even though soup was the only menu item I ever ordered.
*The driver who picked me up on time for an early a.m. flight, helped me with my bags at the airport, arrived early to take me home upon my return and waited patiently at the store while I picked up a few staples. His dependability was a reassuring contrast to my travel concerns.
*The hair stylist who graciously recut my hair several days after our initial appointment. Lesson learned: Don’t try to judge a cut while wearing protective plastic gloves!

My late mother Harriet said that the key to positive interactions with others is to picture everyone wearing a big banner that says, “I want to feel important.” All the business professionals mentioned above gave me the feeling that I and my business are important to them.

As business owners welcome folks back, I hope great customer service will be the norm…it just might make a difference in the bottom line, which, these days, is a top priority!

I am a local freelance writer and welcome your thoughts on present-day customer service. Please email me at
Barbara Russek, a former French teacher, has been a freelance writer for the past 13 years. She still loves all things French. Russek welcomes comments at

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