The Carrefour was awful. Nothing more miserable than a huge supermarket without any shoppers in it. No surprise that the Gran Masoutis near our home is so much more successful. They have a much better concept!
As I walked away from the Carrefour, I saw large footprints painted on the floor advertising eyeglasses for 19 Euros. Being a user of reading glasses, that caught my attention. I followed the footprints and ended up in a store for eyeglasses.
At that point, I was impressed. Having once owned/run my own small business in the Chicago area, I learned a lot about retailing. The trick is to get the potential customer face-to-face. Once you have him face-to-face, you are half-way home for the first sale (if you don’t believe that, you better concentrate on the Internet for selling your stuff). If you sell products, you have to get the customer face-to-face in your shop. If you sell services, you normally have to get the customer face-to-face in his office. Either way, you have to get him face-to-face.
So here I was in a store for eyeglasses being greeted by a very friendly young Greek lady and I was favorably disposed to the whole thing — even though I had had no intention of buying eyeglasses. Not bad for a start!
The eyeglasses advertised for 19 Euros were already sold out but the young lady could show me alternatives. By the time we were through, I was looking at a proposal costing 225 Euros.
While the young lady was testing my eyesight, we were chatting about the state of affairs in Greece, which she said was very bad. I asked her whether there were unemployed among her friends. She said yes, many, above all her husband.
Her husband is a carpenter and he had lost his job. I asked why he couldn’t get some orders working on his own. The young lady reminded me that there was a crisis, among others a construction crisis, too. So that was a dumb question on my part. I asked her how much unemployment insurance her husband received and she said ‘none’ because he has been unemployed for over 1-1/2 years.
I then asked her what they would do if she lost her job, too. She said that they would have to look for work in another country.
When the prototype for the eyeglasses was ready, I asked where the lense would come from. From Germany, the young lady said. A Zeiss. I asked why it didn’t come from Greece. She explained that there was only one lense manufacturer in Greece and his products were not as good as those from Zeiss.
I then asked where the frame would come from. From France, the young lady said. The French make much better frames than the Greeks.
Since the store was quite busy, I commented that the owner must be quite happy about the way his business was going. Yes, the young lady said, but the owner was a company in Holland.
I asked her whether she could see my point that Greece as a country would be much better off if Greek manufacturers made lenses and frames and if the business were owned by Greeks. She said ‘of course’ she understood that. The only problem was that the Greek politicians did not understand that, she added.
At that point, I could no longer resist and I purchased the glasses which I had not intended to purchase and which I really didn’t need. So much for good salesmanship!
As I walked on, I passed by another store for eyeglasses. There were no painted footprints leading to it. There didn’t seem to be any customers in the store. I walked through the door to check it out. No one paid attention to the fact that a potential customer had walked through the door. So I walked back out of the store.
So, within a couple of hours I had observed the difference between good and bad salesmanship, I had seen evidence that Greece could do a lot less importing (and create new jobs through more domestic manufacturing) and I had talked to a young lady who understood all that. Quite an experience!