- I like to have fun.
- I'm not a very good dancer.
Another key element in creating the community around Host & Toast is making people feel comfortable. This starts with sales staff, but it goes much beyond that. Friendly and knowledgeable employees are a no brainer. The grocery store has those too. But create a physical environment where people feel at ease to taste, talk, shop, and linger. Engage customers in conversation and introduce them to other customers who have similar interests and make them feel welcome. I do not view m job as selling wine. Instead, I am a host, and my job is to welcome people into my store. The sales will come later.
I was disappointed the other day when a customer mentioned she felt like she had gotten a dirty look from another customer because she brought her daughter with her to the store. She assured me it wasn't an employee (relief.) My kids are at the store with me all the time. My 7 year old is allowed one sip of wine provided he tells me how it smells first. Everyone is welcome at Host & Toast ~ men, women, children, even hipsters. I am happy, however, that she felt comfortable enough to mention it to me. If I had not created a comfortable environment, she might not have mentioned it and instead just not come back to the store.
Lastly, I am very fortunate that wine is my business. It's easy to sell something that is intrinsically social. Although I intentionally set out to create an attitude and environment in the store that spurred community development, the fact that it is a wine store helps the community flourish more easily. I also benefit from being located in west Texas where being friendly and open is a part of our culture. Creating a community is easy when the two main elements are friendly people and wine.