Knowing your audience

The little coffee shop on West 21st Street has, dangling under its potato chip rack, a row of flip-flops.
I pointed to them today as I bought my pretzels. “Sell a lot of flip-flops?” I asked the owner, an affable woman who’s always manning the register.
“You know, we open sometimes on Saturday nights, when the weather’s cool,” she explained to me. “And all the clubs around here, they don’t let women in wearing flats. So all these girls come out after wearing their heels all night, and they say to me, ‘Do you have flip-flops? I’d pay anything for a pair of flip-flops!’
“So, we got some flip-flops. I know how they feel–I once spent $20 on flip-flops after a night like that. But they’re all college girls, you know? I don’t want to rip them off, so I just charge five dollars.”
Have your customers voiced unexpected needs to you? How are you solving their problems?
This is a cross-post from aiaio.

Eight years on

I thought of my go bag yesterday as the city prepared for its annual 9/11 rememberance. Did you have a go bag?
We still do, packed with old shoes and gym shorts and now-sketchy bottles of water and a dog bone or two. In a sign of evolution, there are not yet baby supplies in the bag. Let’s hope we never feel compelled to update it.
I commemorate this day, as always, with links back to the related posts on Ideapad:
My blog posts about the event, September 11-23, 2001
Adam Oestreich’s first-person account, September 12, 2001

It’s all in the telling

“Our vacation on the Vineyard was really nice. We had perfect weather all week (as always) and Nathan and Charley were both terrific. We hit every town as planned and found some great new restaurants and shops. Since we rented a house, we got to try the farmer’s markets up-island, and we enjoyed a kitchen full of amazing fresh corn and lettuce and nectarines. Nate had fun in the ocean, Amy got to the beach twice, and David got some quality grilling done. It was a shame we had to switch rental houses but we resolved that in half a day and our second house was great. Love Martha’s Vineyard. Already thinking about next summer.”
“Our vacation on the Vineyard was a mess. The house we rented reeked of mildew and we wanted to leave the instant we got there. We toughed it out for two days, freezing at night with open windows airing out the smell, then gave up and blew Wendesday house hunting and packing and unpacking. Our second house was really nice, but it was pretty remote, and so buggy since it was in the woods. The boys were well behaved but we didn’t get to sleep in or really unwind the whole week. Even our trips to the beach were only an hour long. It felt like we spent the whole week in our car. Love Martha’s Vineyard, but oy! what a week.”
The reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle.

Conversations with my 15-month-old

Nathan is standing by a coffee table in a Martha’s Vineyard rental house playing with a stack of red and black coasters. Dad thinks this is a good time to work on his son’s language skills, and picks up a coaster of each color.
“Nathan, this is a red coaster. Can you say red?”
“Raaah.”
“Very good! And this is a black coaster. Can you say black?”
[blank stare]
“Okay, so maybe we won’t say black.”
“Baby!”
“Want to try again? This is the red one. Can you say red?”
“Raaah.”
“Right! And this is the black one. Can you say black?”
“Elmo!”