It’s Important to Try Things

Barks and BarsI’ve been trying for months to derive some sort of life lesson for the story I’m going to tell here, but I haven’t figured it out, so I’ll just tell the story and hopefully it will mean something important.

I was having lunch with an old friend at A Pizza Story, a Neapolitan pizza place in St. Louis. Neapolitan is one of my favorite types of pizza. That has nothing to do with this story, really, other than my tummy was happy.

After lunch, my friend said he was going to stop in Kakao, a chocolate shop next door. This kind of surprised me, as this friend didn’t seem like someone to indulge on expensive, craft chocolates. It’s nice that you can always learn something new about your oldest friends.

My friend bought some chocolate (some for him, some for his wife), along with some gummy candies they had in the front rack. I brought my order to the cashier, and while she was ringing me up, my friend pointed to a gummy candy he hadn’t noticed and said that he wish he had gotten one of them. So I told the cashier to just add it to my order–just easier that way.

And that’s when it happened. A small thing, but a thing that has stuck with me for months.

Instead of adding the gummy candy to my order and charging me, the cashier pulled two of the candies out of the display case and handed one to me and one to my friend. She waved away my attempt to pay for them.

“It’s important to try things,” she said.

She wasn’t trying to upsell me. My order was complete. She just gave us each a free gummy candy (which may not seem like much, but I think they were around $2.00 each).

It’s important to try things. There’s something so profound about that statement. I just don’t know what it is! I mean, the statement isn’t really that profound, but in that context, in that moment, it really spoke to me.

What does it say to you?


10 Responses to “It’s Important to Try Things”

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Ten years ago I started making a conscious decision to try something new when I went to a familiar restaurant. Doing that again and again not only helped me discover new favorite foods, but it also built my confidence to try new activities, talk to new people, and start new hobbies. And it all starts with something as easy as getting a different sandwich for lunch. -Jake

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Jake: That’s really cool! I like that you made a conscious decision to do that, and that you’ve stuck to that commitment.

  2. Vince Toldon says:

    I think that it is important to try things: vegetables when you are a kid, different subjects in school, meeting different people and approaches to solve problems all the time.
    Each experience enriches us by adding valuable alternatives into our brains. Alternatives that we might share with someone who might tweak that information into a solution to a problem that neither of us alone might have thought of.
    My sense is that most lasting solutions vine about through collaboration and cooperation fueled by a desire to try something different with someone else.
    Vince

  3. darasu says:

    I’m going to take this post in a slightly different direction with my reply…

    I’m most struck by what the cashier did. It was absolutely kind and wonderful of her, but… also really savvy customer service. She cost the chocolate shop $4 (maybe 50 cents in actual cost), but I’d wager they will get great lifetime value (LTV) out of both of you. Unless the chocolate was nasty, I’d guess that experience left a positive impression with you and your friend, and you’d both be inclined to go there again and again. Their 50 cents cost was a great investment in the future, and it all happened in a brief moment.

    It surprises me by how many stores and companies don’t get that principle. One example: My kids got a free pizza voucher to a national chain pizza place from their school for their school work. I called in the order for my kids to get the pizza one day, but when I arrived (with my kids), the cashier noticed that the voucher had just expired, and that they wouldn’t be able to honor it. I explained that it was a reward for accomplishing things in school, but the cashier said she couldn’t give the pizzas to my kids. It was just the policy—her hands were tied. I asked what she was going to do with the pizzas, and she said they’d have to just throw them away (which she then did). I shook my head and left, but the experience kept bothering me. I eventually called their national customer support line and explained what happened and they were extremely embarrassed and disappointed with how it was handled in the local shop, and gave my kids another voucher.

    Conversely, I’ve always had exemplary service from board game publishers. One example: I ruined a Pandemic card one time. I contacted Z-Man Games to see if I could buy a replacement, and they sent me a new copy on their own dime. They didn’t have to do it, but they did it anyway. I’ve since bought numerous games from them and have a great opinion of their company. Spending a dime to make ten dollars is a no-brainer. Makes you feel good (and makes you money).

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      darasu: Thanks for sharing your thoughts from the customer service side of things. That was definitely a big part of it. I’m sorry about the arbitrary rules followed by the pizza place–that’s too bad.

  4. T-Mac says:

    I agree with that sentiment, and I think you covered it well here!

    The other thing that stands out to me is something I’ve been thinking about for a while that you touched on a little–it’s a sense of business/personal generosity. There is something about people who don’t count and hoard every cent they have that makes them memorable to me and colors my perception of them in a positive way. If we take businesses for example, there are times when someone gives you something for free, but it’s clearly an attempt to get you to buy more, make you feel obligated to participate in something, or in some way gain an advantage. I got the sense that this lady just genuinely loves chocolates and candies, is proud of them, and loves to share what she loves with others. She wasn’t worried about the bottom line; she was more of a craftsperson sharing her art, and money didn’t seem to factor into the equation at all. Awesome.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Trev: “There is something about people who don’t count and hoard every cent they have that makes them memorable to me and colors my perception of them in a positive way.”

      I echo that sentiment, and you’re right that it seemed to come from a place of passion for the product. My sense was that she wasn’t a manager, just an employee, but it speaks to the management that they could empower their employees to do things like that. Other places don’t give their employees that type of freedom, and it shows.

  5. Sarah says:

    But here’s the real question: Aside from thinking about it for months and blogging about it today, Jamey, has the experience actually changed your behavior? Have you reached out and specifically tried any new things because of it?

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Sarah: That’s a good question. I think it more hit me from the other side–I saw and admired the way that employee had treated me as a customer, and I want to treat my customers the same way. I think that’s where I struggled to find a connection to my board game business, though, as there isn’t really an equivalent of a “free sample.” I have tried to take the generosity to heart, though.

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