Top Small Business Retail CX examples from the Purple Goldfish Project


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A little extra from your local retailer

In honor of Small Business Week, here are the top retail examples from the Purple Goldfish Project:
Grand Central Racquet (#63 from RD Ferman) “Allows customers to select from a box of grips, vibration stoppers, etc for purchases over $50.″

Toyzam (#131 and #115 submitted by Michael Edwards) “I was reading post number #115 which mentioned the free batteries with the purchase of any battery operated toy at ToyZam! You missed one other marketing lagniappe / purple goldfish at ToyZam! This awesome store also gives everyone a free coloring book with their purchase as well! When I thanked the cashier and mentioned that I have 3 children, she smiled and handed me TWO MORE free coloring books! What a great experience during the mad holiday shopping season! This store is bright, cheery, colorful, friendly and INSISTS that you go ahead and play with the toys! Awesome experience! [Good article on Toyzam from CNBC. Multiple purple goldfish . . . I’m seeing that as a theme]

cartridge world

Cartridge World
(#249. Submitted by EJ Kritz) ”We offer a free delivery service to our business customers during which time plenty of things can happen opening the door for added value. Many of our franchises keep a “toner vac” in their delivery vehicle. This vacuum is specially designed to handle the fine particles in toner. It’s a HUGE benefit to our customers (as silly and small as it sounds) to bring in the toner vac for a complimentary cleaning of their laser printer before we put in their new cartridge. This service is the printer equivalent of getting a free car wash each time you get a tank of gas… it doesn’t help your car run better but it sure does make you feel good. The second example is something almost universal regardless of which Cartridge World franchise you visit. It’s quite simple actually. Each and every business delivery comes complete with a Tootsie Pop. You see, purchasing our product is all about saving money. However, typically the person saving the money (the business owner) is not the same person taking the delivery (the office manager). This little token makes everyone smile in the middle of a busy day! In fact, many of our owners could even tell you the favorite flavor of pop for each of their top customers. Simple, and yes, sweet.”

michael lynne's tennis shop

Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop
(#245 submitted by Will Prest)
“When you pick up your professionally strung racquet, you get a new can of Penn balls with the Michael Lynne Tennis logo and Name in big letters on it. It is a nice gesture, plus his balls are left all over the clubs around town. Here is the website address: It got me to visit the site and I read a few of the articles on there…they were a nice surprise.” Here is a great article on Michael Lynne Tennis from Racquet Sports Industry.

Warrug (#204 submitted by Kevin Sudeith) “I’m in the Persian rug biz and ‘throwing something in’ at payment is a standard practice. Almost any retail rug seller has stories about this practice. In my case I throw in a book I wrote about the rugs I sell.”

great harvest bread company

Great Harvest Bakery
(#383 from Nicolas Nelson) “The Great Harvest Bakery is a relatively small franchise chain of wonderful American-style bakeries that is growing slowly on purpose–they want to make extra sure that every new Great Harvest Bakery is top notch and fully reflects the ethos of the original one. Lagniappe is what Great Harvest Bakery is all about– it comes across in a dozen ways. But the first one any visitor will notice immediately is the free bread tasting every time you come in the door. Yep, everyone who even stops by gets a free slice of their choice of the day’s fresh-baked bread. A generous free slice. Whether or not you buy something. Whether or not you even stay in the bakery after you take their bread. Whether or not you say thank you. Free bread, every visit! Of course, there’s a catch: the bread is unbelievably good. That free slice of bread will convince you to buy a whole loaf. We do, almost every week. The panini sandwiches are pretty amazing too, by the way (but not free).”

Skooba Design (#389 from an article in BNET) “All of my employees have a free rein when it comes to helping customers. If they want to give an unhappy customer something for free-a free upgrade to overnight shipping, a complimentary camera strap-I say, do it. It’s not going to put us out of business. If making a person happy is going to cost more than $100, the employee needs to run it by me. But up to that amount, they can do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”

peter millar

Peter Millar
(#446. From Joe Bob Hester of the University of North Carolina, taken from an article by the News Observer) “They remember the mints. When boxes of golf shirts and shorts and other high-end menswear are shipped from the Peter Millar office and warehouse, the packing list includes mints. When customers unpack their orders, they are struck by three things: The quality of what they’ve ordered; each item comes out of the box in the order it’s listed on the packing sheet; and, mints are included for the pleasure of it. It’s a little thing, but this year when a few boxes arrived short of mints (they ran out briefly), phone calls started coming.”

See’s Candy (#417 from Sydney Reiner) “See’s candy always gives you a free piece of chocolate when you come into the store.”

Artuso’s Bakery (#529 submitted by Kevin Sheehan) “Artuso’s Bakery in the Bronx has been on the Purple Goldfish bandwagon for decades. There are many times when you go in and out of the blue, you’ll get a free cookie or pastry or even a whole cake if it’s near the end of the day. The owner, who passed away recently, loved kids and equally loved giving them a little treat from time to time. The best part was, this wasn’t something that happened every time, so it didn’t become just another thing that you expected to get.”

Market Basket Supermarket
(#519 from Ann-Marie Lavoie) “I’d like to add, Market Basket Supermarket to the Purple Goldfish. They always have complimentary coffee, regular and decaf, avalible to customers while they shop. They also have free cookies for the kids at the bakery.

White House Custom Colors (#637) Taken from a tweet by Jinxed Studios @jinxedstudios “@9INCHmarketing I got a Tootsie Roll Pop with my prints from White House Custom Colors last week- does that count? It made me smile!”


#805. Taken from a tweet by Annette Franz @annettefranz. Taken from 1to1 media’s post:

When was the last time you personally thanked a customer? Sent a hand-written note? Last year Jack Mitchell wrote 1,793 personal notes to customers of his retail stores. That’s about five notes a day, every day.


#849. comes from Chris Zane and his book ‘Reinventing the Wheel’
The One Dollar Rule – Zane’s doesn’t charge for any parts that cost them one dollar or less. Need a master link for your chain, its on the house. In fact they typically will throw in an extra master link for lagniappe. #854. Test Rides – Want to test a bike at Zane’s? You’re free to take it out for a ride. No credit card or drivers license required. Each year they lose a handful of bikes, but the small cost is insignificant compared to the trust gained and hassle avoided.

Gigi’s Cupcakes #886 was submitted by Hank Blank:

Gigi’s Cupcakes makes some unbelievable cupcakes. Their purple goldfish includes giving you a dozen cupcakes for the price of 11.

And that’s pretty cool. But they recently provided me with a PURPLE WHALE sized goldfish.

I had ordered, and pre-paid, 60 cupcakes for my wife’s birthday party. When I arrived to get them, there were no cupcakes. The order had been misplaced. The clerk quickly got the owner on the phone.

He immediately:

1. Gave me a full refund for the 60 cupcakes (no small expense for a small store).

2. Gave me 60 cupcakes based on what was in stock (some that had been on my list, some that had not).

We were a little disappointed because some of our favorites were not available, but the cupcakes were a big hit at the party.

A prompt, painless resolution to an unfortunate situation. But it doesn’t end there.

Early the next week, I got a call from the owner, checking to see if the cupcakes for the party ended up working out. He then asked for my wife’s name and promptly sent her a gift certificate for a dozen more cupcakes!

I never raised my voice (sometimes its the squeeky wheel that gets the grease), and this small business owner not only did the right thing–he went above and beyond.

I will now (and am doing so here) recommend Gigi’s Cupcakes to anyone and everyone. Give them a shot–they are amazing.

La Senza #898 in the Project is taken from a blog post by Jon Hammond:
In Jon’s words:

In the Gulf Coast area of the United States especially around Louisiana, they have a tradition that has been around for hundreds of years. A ‘Lagniappe’ is a small unexpected gift added to a purchase in a gracious gesture that creates both warmth and surprise.

I have recently been reading Theo Paphitis’s book, ‘Enter the Dragon’ where he describes one of the key elements of La Senza’s (a lingerie retailer in the UK) success being down to the way purchases were treated. They didn’t just throw it into a bag. The item would be carefully wrapped in tissue, some beads added, then beautifully boxed and tied with a ribbon.

To me this is an excellent example of ‘Lagniappe’ in action.

OK, it no doubt costs a little more in packaging and time, but when you think about the benefits of how the customer feels when they walk out with something precious, it makes sound business sense.

reynolds farms

Reynolds Farms #910 Started in 1959, Reynolds Farms Nursery and Country Garden Center is based in Norwalk, CT. At Reynolds you’ll find ideas for every lawn and garden challenge plus décor.
I headed to Reynolds after a major #FAIL at Home Depot (it’s fall in Connecticut . . . who doesn’t carry lime for lawns). Separated by less than a mere kilometer, Reynolds is miles apart from the Depot in the realm of customer experience. Before walking into the nursery, me and my two boys (4 and 5) encountered a goldfish pond. One of the associates came out and asked Thomas and James if they’d like to feed the fish. While the boys were feeding the fish the staff helped me locate the appropriate sized bag of lime. Upon checking out I noticed a ’spin to win’ wheel. The staff said that every order is entitled to a spin. They were gracious to allow both of the boys to have a spin. 0 for 2 unfortunately, but the staff offered the boys each a lollipop. Strong move.

Green Mountain Shoe Store #987 was submitted by Todd Adams:
With every purchase you get to draw a ticket out of a bowl with a discount between 5%- 50% off! Of course most of them are 5% but it’s a great way to get customers excited and coming back!

summit bicycles burlingame

Summit Bicycles
#999. Submitted via e-mail by Bob Thompson:
I just visited Summit Bicycles in Burlingame and chatted with “Chris” who has been there many years now.
Chris is a good story all by himself. He started as a bicycle mechanic and learned the business from the ground up. Now he spends most of his time out on the floor helping customers. And he’s great. Very knowledgeable about bikes and approachable.
I confirmed they still give that free tune-up with all new bikes. If this service is purchased separately, it would cost $90. And it’s not just one tune-up a year. Bring your bike in as much as you like, there’s no limit!
How do they justify all this free labor? It keeps customers coming back, and provides some differentiation from Internet sellers competing only on price. Also, some tune-up customers end up buying parts if needed for repairs (the tune-up includes just service), or other accessories.
I bought my current bike a few years ago and it’s still in good shape thanks to Summit’s service. Every year in the spring I dust off the cobwebs and take it in for a tune-up. And usually end up buying a few other things too.
Next time I’m in the market for a new bike, I’ll buy it at Summit because they do more than just sell the bike. The free tune-up has both a real value ($90 x several years) to me, and is good business for Summit, too.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – A great video by Inc. Magazine on Zane’s Cycles:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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