People often say to me hey Julie, what was customer service like in the early years of Fishs Eddy? Glad you asked because I’ve been dying to post this little story. And yes, it’s all true!
Customer Service, in the early years.
Our very first store was no more than 500 square feet so there really wasn’t a need, or room, for sales people. But the week after we signed the lease Dave and I listened in horror as both of our mothers proclaimed that they would be running our new store.
“We’ve decided to split the week up between the both of us” they demanded, even though neither of them had ever had a career in anything… ever.
Both mothers lived in the city at the time and were very excited about their new Fishs Eddy “jobs." Dave’s mother was a tall Irish woman with a sharp tongue, a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She had a preference for gay men and resented straight men, which included Dave. “You know, I lost all respect for you when you married him” she would tell me, pointing her drink in Dave’s direction. My own mother was a shorter, stockier Jewish version of Dave’s mother.
|Setting up first store 1986|
From day one our mother’s employment came with various stipulations. “I’m shutting down early on Wednesdays, that’s when I do lunch and theatre with the girls” said my mother.
“I want two weeks cash-in-advance in case you don’t make enough money to pay me” said Dave’s mother.
But when it came to customer service, our mothers had completely different styles. My mother had a don’t-make-eye-contact-with-the-customer approach. Parked behind the counter with her face buried in her People Magazine, customers were privy to my mother's informative mumblings. “Boy George is gay now?
Oy, what next!”
Shoplifters in particular liked to frequent the store during my mother’s shift. I pointed out that someone stole our microwave from the back office. “Well apparently they would rather have a microwave than your dishes.” said my mother.
Dave’s mother had her own special brand of customer service. When Dave and I called the store to check in she would put us on hold, but we could hear her through the phone line communicating with a customer, “I didn’t ask you to come in here, did I!”
Even in the early days at Fishs Eddy, celebrities were stopping by the store. Dave’s mother was on the schedule the day Diane Keaton stopped in. “Uh, mom? What did you say to her?” said Dave. “I told her she looks younger on the big screen then she does in real life, now stop bothering me here!” said Dave’s mother.
In spite of both mothers, business grew. Eventually we hired a perky young woman named Beverly as a third salesperson. Beverly would cheerfully greet customers walking through the door. “Hello and welcome to Fishs Eddy!” Dave’s mother rolled her eyes and mimicked “hello and welcome to Fishs Eddy” followed by “you’ve got to be kidding me!”
|My mother, Dave's mother... and Beverly|
Dave and I decided to call a staff meeting. It would be our mothers, Beverly, and us. At the meeting we directed our attention to the mothers. “Uh, we were just thinking that Beverly seems to have mastered good customer service, not that you two aren’t completely charming."
Despite the staff meetings we knew Beverly was never going to be their role model. We needed a plan. We replaced our tackle box with a real cash register. “How the hell do you work this thing!” said my mother.
We would have deliveries arrive during their shifts. “Now I have to stand there and hold the doors open? I don’t think so!” said Dave’s mother.
Eventually work overwhelmed both mothers and they moved on. Mine to the gated communities of Boca Raton and Dave’s mother to the gay communities of Pompano Beach. In their short time at Fishs Eddy our mothers proved something valuable.
Our dishes would sell themselves.