Opening the Doors Early
I just got off the phone with a customer from Atlanta (we're in Denver) who read about us in a magazine and wanted to make an appointment to come by in a few weeks. He's going to be passing through town for business and has a little window in which he was hoping to squeeze in a visit. He literally rescheduled his flight while he was on the phone with me so he'd be in town when we're open. Now, his new flight is at 1pm, and we open at 11am, which is still tight.
Typically I have a firm rule about opening early and closing on time. I feel like those times shouldn't be flexible, both in fairness to my staff and to our customers. The sign says "Open at 11", not "Knock on the door at 10:25 and if no one answers come around back and bang on that door too". On the other hand, we don't leave a minute before our sign says we leave. If someone drives an hour through traffic to come to our shop, the least we can do is be here as we promised.
If I had my way, we'd open everyday at 11, serve the first ten customers in the door and then lock it so we could focus on making lenses, and mountain biking.
So guy from Atlanta asks if we might be able to open a little earlier for him. I hesitated, because it's against my retail principles (and because I've been burned a few times by customers saying they're on their way, could you stay open a few minutes later, only to have them never show up). But he's reaching out to us from across the country and rearranging his schedule because he specifically wants to shop at our store. Because he's heard about our work and lenses and wants to own it for himself. This guy wants what I make. He wants a sport frame, with a set of polarized bifocals for cycling and some clears with AR for surgical use. (Gross.)
People seek out different things. Some search and travel for BBQ ribs. Others travel for ancient ruins, or concerts, or museums. Atlanta dude seeks out my handcrafted Rx eyewear. When you build a store from scratch and devote your professional life to one pursuit, there's a certain feeling, part pride, part gratitude, when a first-time customer asks if you could possibly open the doors a little early so he can experience what you do.
I tell him I'll open at 10, and he'll have plenty of time to catch his flight.