“Blurry”- Puddle of Mud

Yes, I am aware this song is like 100 years old. And I still love it.

I am going to tell you a story today.

When I was in college I worked three jobs, all for the school, and as such qualified for the VA Food Stamp program for college students. I took full advantage of this during my junior and senior year and was very grateful for the assistance that came in just a little bit of food.

My last summer in Radford, my card of course terminated, and I had very little left on it- maybe $20 to spend. I was staying with a lovely family in Roanoke, on the last week of my internship and I stopped in at The Fresh Market to purchase some flowers and a dessert for dinner.

As I went to check out I pulled out my EBT card and asked politely if they took it. The woman stared at me in disgust and said, “No. We don’t accept those kind of people here.”

I paid with my credit card, my cheeks burning red, and kept my eyes down as I left the store.

And after a lovely dinner, I sat down and wrote a letter to The Fresh Market corporate headquarters stating what I have just told you above but also including a comment on how even if I were not as lucky to have benefitted from a college program and while I completely respect Fresh Market’s choice to not accept EBT, that “those people” are people too and deserve a little respect and consideration.

Several months went by with no response, as I refused to shop at the store anyway it didn’t seem to matter.

And then I got a letter in the mail, not only apologizing for the delay, but including a $100 gift card to make up for the comment made and with a promise it would never happen again.

I am telling you this story because it is easy to complain about bad service, but people very often do not highlight good service.

And GREAT service is what I received at the Cary Street location of The Fresh Market.

When I walked in the door, I was greeted by EVERYONE. I took a moment to admire some of the displays and went to sample the hot apple cider. The coffee attendant realized it was empty and not only made a new batch on the spot, she told me to walk around and she’d make sure I got some when I came back.

The grocery attendant was incredibly helpful and sweet while I was looking at fruit to eat for dinner and even found a hidden tub of papaya for me. And then again, the bakery attendants were helpful and sweet answering my questions, giving me an ingredient break down and offering to let me try something to make sure I liked it before I committed to purchasing a whole thing of muffins.

On my way to check out not only did I get hot apple cider, I got an amazing conversation with a stranger about tea, hot drinks in general and why pumpkin is the best thing in the world.

The cashier was friendly and sweet and again- extremely pleasant.

I left the store feeling buoyant and re-charged and I stopped by again two days later. Not only was I remembered by the coffee attendant, I was also greeted by the bakery and had a chat with the cashiers before I left.

I am officially a Fresh Market FAN once again. I am a huge proponent of great customer service and that shopping experience didn’t just leave me with a great impression, it made me a brand advocate. I am talking about The Fresh Market on my blog, I talked about it with my family and classmates, and I will be a returning regular.

I encourage you to speak about good customer service and bad. I think writing a letter to share good and bad is how a business can grow and improve. I don’t think you should expect anything in return, but if you get it- I would be happy.

– Kerith


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