Passion, Parades and Customer Loyalty


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If there’s one thing I’m blessed with, it’s a passion for my loyalty work. I simply LOVE the constant learning about why and how customers buy. It’s a life-long passion that I first felt as a little girl growing up in Marshville, a small North Carolina town about 30 miles east of Charlotte. Forget dolls and dress-up! For me, real fascination was found in the mom ‘n pop stores that lined the two streets of my home town.

For example, when Gaddy’s shoe store received its shipment of back-to-school shoes, I was there! When Guion’s pharmacy got a load of new Archie and Jughead comic books, I knew it first. When Collins Market added a new treat to its wall of Zero and PayDay candy bars, Sugar Daddy lollipops and the like, I could spot the new treat instantly. When the Ford dealership unveiled its new models for the year, I excitedly stood by as the car covers were removed. (The free doughnuts didn’t hurt either!)

All the bright-colored merchandising and spanking new products were “eye-candy” to my soul.

But I was also intrigued by the differences between merchants. For example, why did Mr. Collins’ grocery bustle with a constant flow of shoppers while his close-by competitor, Mr. Gaddy, suffered from an almost empty parking lot? Why did the ladies in town seem to favor Audrey’s Dress Shop over Louise’s dresses just a block away?

Thirty years later, my clients and I are still probing solutions to these same issues.

In honor of the Fourth, I wanted to share a picture of my friends and me “performing” in Marshville’s 1962 Fourth of July parade. Notice the storefronts in the background.

They were my playground.

Question: Do you have a childhood passion that you’ve turned into a profession? I’d love to know about it!

Jill Griffin
Griffin Group
Jill Griffin is a "Harvard Working Knowledge" author of three books on customer loyalty. She serves as public board director for Luby's Cafeterias, Fuddruckers and Jimmy Buffets' Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants. Microsoft, Dell, Marriott Hotels, Ford, Toyota, Wells Fargo, IBM, Subaru are a few of the clients served since she hung out her "Loyalty Maker" shingle in 1988. Jill delivers customized keynotes worldwide. Sign up for her monthly loyalty tip at


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