So I went to patronize one of my fine local sporting goods shops this week to buy a menial thing. I won’t say which store because this is going to be very embarrassing for them. I found the thing I was looking for on a shelf, and then brought it to the checkout lectern.
Behind the lectern stood a pimplefaced kid of about 22. He wore a flatbrim hat and a chain wallet. I tossed the thing onto the counter. He looked at it, scanned it, and then (and this is where it gets really embarrassing) he charged me retail. Full retail! For a thing at a store!
I was mortified. “Do you even know who I am, bro?” I was forced to ask. He stammered for a moment before answering that he did not. That left the messy business of explaining to him how rad I am, and that paying retail is for people who vacation in Aspen (and who use ‘vacation’ as a verb).
Didn’t he know that I always get deals on gear there? That I once didn’t get lapped in a competitive local cyclocross race? That I sometimes go skiing on weekends? That I maintain this very blog which has as many as dozens of occasional readers?
Now, I understand that these local businesses are, like, businesses. But I bring real value to their brand. When I ride my mountain bike at inappropriate speeds on walking trails and blow through red lights, I do it with their jersey on my back. When people ask me where I got my sweet new merino underthings, I tell them. I’m a brand ambassador. An advertising contractor.
I’ve got their sticker on my Rocket Box, for chrissake, and people around town see it.
Well, so I’ll tell you I let that pimplefaced kid have it. “I paid for a shirt with this store’s logo in it,” I told him, “and occasionally I wear it!” He was unmoved.
“Sometimes,” I went on, “when I need my bike tuned for Saturday, I have the courtesy to even bring it in Friday afternoon! I don’t even wait until Saturday morning to drop it off!” He remained unmoved.
It wasn’t until I was really huffing and puffing and a line started to form behind me that the young man behind the lectern applied my God given 10% discount and I was able to leave with my menial thing. All was right with the world again.
And so the moral of the story is here is not, of course, that you should ever pay retail at a local business (obviously). Especially not one who supports the local communities you value with partnerships and sponsorship. That would be insane! You just need to be more clear about how rad you are. Because if they’ve never heard of me, they’ve almost certainly never heard of you.