This weekend my husband and I wandered into a local antique store. The first thing we were greeted with was a broken urn on a table, with a sign that said “This is what happens when customers carry big purses. It was a costly $150 mistake the customer had to pay for.” Actually, it didn’t say that quite as nicely, but seeing as there was another sign that said “No photography allowed in the store”, that’s the gist of the message as I recall it.
Beside the table with the broken urn were more signs. One said “We have security cameras in place. If we catch you stealing, we WILL post your picture on Facebook”. Another sign showed two images from the security camera. Under one image it said “This man was caught stealing. A woman was also involved and he involved his 6 year old boy”. The other image said “This woman left with a $150 dollar coat. If you know who she is, turn her in.”
Not a pleasant welcome to their business! The impression I got was that this business owner believes that a large percentage of people walking into the store are careless at best and thieves at worst. It’s easy to focus on the dishonest customers and to create a long list of policies and procedures (or threatening signs!) based on that small percentage of customers. Unfortunately, those policies, procedures and threatening signs also impact and affect the perceptions and transaction of the majority of the people that walk through your doors … the honest customers.
Also of note, there were two young ladies working in the store that afternoon. When we arrived, there was nobody behind the till. Instead, they were off to the side having a personal conversation. 25 minutes later when we left the store, they were still chatting in the same spot. Perhaps if one person stayed in front while the other person walked through the store interacting with customers, offering to answer questions or provide assistance, the opportunities to steal would be reduced and as an added bonus, the honest customers would feel taken care.
What do you think about the signage? Am I over-reacting?