Town & Gown:
Local Shopping, Local Relationships
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown
For this week’s column, I thought I would share with you
something I recently penned as chairman of the Calhoun County Chamber of
Commerce. We are so fortunate to live in a community where the merchants
understand the true meaning of customer service.
As soon as my daughter was old enough to memorize a complete sentence, her
mother taught her a cheer that they repeat in turn anytime the urge to shop
strikes them. One shouts, “Who are we?” The other shouts back, “Girls!” “What do
we like to do?” “Shop!” “Whose money do we spend?” “Daddy’s!”
The ability to shop seems genetic, perhaps connected to the second X
chromosome, which the fairer gender possesses. Shopping comes easy to those so
The rest of my family, the guys, are genetically challenged when it comes to
shopping. We just don’t do it well. We need help! Fortunately, Calhoun County
has a large number of gems when it comes to the art of customer relationships.
I owe the success of my anniversary, birthday and/or Christmas gifts to the
customer service skills of Wakefield’s Eva Pinson. Somehow she always knows what
my lady likes and picks out the right thing each time. I thought for years that
Eva was my personal shopper. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she has
this same relationship with all her customers, male and female alike.
Another great local example of customer relationships is Jan Smith proprietor
of The Keeping Room in DeArmanville. Christmas shopping is something I manage to
plan for early each Christmas Eve. It’s a skill that I am passing on to my two
sons, who always join me whether they want to or not. Good or bad, it’s a
tradition. Intuitively, Jan knows we are coming that last shopping day and is
always prepared. Without exception she knows the specialty pieces we have
purchased in prior years, suggests the new additions or accessories that are
just right and gift wraps it all. Wrapping is a skill I have spent over half a
century attempting to master without success.
Relationships make a difference. Earlier this year our pharmacist Jay Colvin,
owner and operator of Crow Drug Inc. in Jacksonville, ran out of a prescription
medicine for one of our three children. Instead of sending us to another
pharmacy or waiting until his own supply was restocked, he went to another
pharmacy, purchased the medicine and delivered it to our home.
The doctor doesn’t make house calls, but the pharmacist does. Free home
delivery is offered to all of Jay’s customers at Crow Drug.
No matter what the item: clothing, jewelry, prescription medicine or
specialty gift items, Jacksonville and its surrounding cities in Calhoun County
has the merchandise and the merchant that can deliver. Most importantly, the
relationship here at home makes the experience personal and unique. It’s worth
staying at home and buying in Calhoun County.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
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