Whether you’re selling homemade jam at the farmer’s market or the largest company in town — how a customer is treated can make or break a business. The Bargain Shop in Port McNeill strives to provide excellent customer service and it shows.
April 1st will mark the ten year anniversary of The Bargain Shop opening and Michelle Monk was part of the original team. Originally as a “key holder” and one year later she was promoted to manager. I recently sat down with Monk to find out what makes The Bargain Shop tick.
“We’re a smaller more personal store where you can find almost anything you need right from clothing and shoes to houseware products or light bulbs. It’s the store where you can get more personal service. It’s an every day store. You can pretty much find or we can get in anything you need.” ~Michelle Monk ~
One of the biggest challenges, according to Monk, is competing with stores that offer online shopping. She notes, “we’re a a smaller company and we may get there but we’re not there yet. People from this town can get anything they want or need and easily order it from home, not having to leave their house or shop and look. Tough to compete with that and it’s getting bigger. I see comments on Facebook that someone has just received a big order for food and I can’t comment, but I’d like to say come and check out our prices.” Many items are the same price as stores down island and sometimes they may be priced a dollar or two higher but Monk stresses the importance of keeping business in town.
And If you’re not sure how shopping locally affects us all here is just one article I found on a quick google search https://sustainableconnections.org/why-buy-local/
When asked about attaining personal Monk explains, “some people have a knack for it and those are the ones I want to hire.” Staff are told “never to point” to an item but to personally take the customer and show them where the item is located. That’s also why there are no aisle numbers in the store. It gives the staff a few moments to chat with the customers and make them feel welcome. Monk asks her staff how they feel when they walk into a store without being acknowledged. She says “all it takes is a hello or a how are you and in a small town it is easier knowing so many people.
For those who don’t pay attention to receipts have a look next time you shop at The Bargain Shop. There is a website to visit and fill out a quick survey. If you give them your email address you’ll receive a 10% off coupon and you can also enter a monthly contest for in store gift cards. Monk proudly told me the store scores, “very high on the survey that people can take after visiting the store. My District Manager has me train other stores because we get 80 to 90% on customer service all the time. I remind the staff daily that customers come first and we never ignore a customer.”
Many customers are surprised to learn Michelle is the manager. She spends more time behind the counter than in her office. And not wanting to be just the boss Monk admits, “the staff are family to me. I promised myself when I became manager that I would take all the good points from previous bosses. Firm, fair, helpful and work as hard as the associates.”
For me the store is like a treasure hunt and I’m always astounded at the random items I find when cruising the aisles. I asked Monk to tell me something about The Bargain Shop that people might not know. She admits, “since SuperValu closed people are now becoming more aware of how many food items we carry, also medicine like children’s Advil and other pharmacy items we’re allowed to carry.” She adds,” our canned goods are cheaper, coffee is cheaper and cereal is cheaper here.”
Future plans for The Bargain Shop? The chain of 155 stores does want to expand and according to Monk, “will probably grow bigger and change into Red Apple within the next five years.” All the surveys customers fill out online are printed out and given to head office. Those results are analyzed to see what can be done better and when a store does something outstanding it’s recognized and shared with other stores. Monk encourages customers to fill out the survey “good or bad,” explaining, “we can’t fix something if we don’t know.”
The Bargain Shop sends flyers through Canada Post or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TBSPortMcNeill