For years I went to the same hair stylist at a rather upscale salon in my town. The stylist always did an outstanding job, even to the point where a few people on the streets complimented my hair. Even a French woman in a diner once walked up to me and said in her lovely accent “You’re hair is so beautiful! So French!” Even one of my doctors complimented my hair, and compliments from him are quite rare.
My stylist was particularly skilled and artistic at her craft, so the prices for her services were very high even compared to her work colleagues’. I spent the money nonetheless, even though the bill could be around $300 if I had many hair services on the same day (haircut, color/highlighting, conditioning treatment, blow dry, flat ironing, and of course the huge tip). Frankly, the price started to become excessively high. My husband and I vowed to cut some corners to save money. As reluctant as I was, I decided to try a different and cheaper hair salon. I switched maybe nine months ago. I really like the new stylist. She is more fun to talk to, and does a good job with my hair. Perhaps it’s not “Wow!” worthy, but it’s still nice. The same hair services I mentioned above cost less than $200 when my new stylist does it.
Barbers are very similar to stylists. If my husband happens to get his hair cut by another barber in his regular barber’s absence that is a real no no. You might see them on the street, or come back to them months later, and get interrogated. “Where were you? You got your hair cut by someone else? They didn’t do a very good job!” Ever hear those words? I’d be a little afraid to hear something similar from my old stylist. Or maybe an awkward silence.
There are many service and product providers who also expect loyalty. Most often they are mom and pop businesses, or salespeople that keep track of interactions with you. These may include drycleaners, cafés, and restaurants that you might have visited regularly.
My husband was born and raised in Czech Republic, formerly known as Czechoslovakia. Back in the days of communism, people tended to go to the same barbers, the same butcher shops, vegetable/fruit stands, newspaper and magazine kiosks, and other places, too. Sometimes there were shortages of what his family needed. If they developed a good relationship with these service/product providers (were friends, put extra money under the table, and of course were loyal), they would be fortunate and get some rare items that maybe no one else got. For example, they’d ask for potatoes, and the provider would whisper something like “I put something special at the bottom of the bag.” Wink. Wink. Then they’d get home and find a bunch of bananas and a couple of oranges, which were in very short supply. At the magazine kiosk, my hubby would ask for cigarettes, then the vendor would say “Have an extra # Koruna on you?” Hubby would then get the drift and give him extra. Instead of some lousy cigarettes, he’d get prized Camels from America, which the kiosk owner got from a mysterious source.
My mother-in-law at one point in the past (still during communism) started to grow dissatisfied with the quality of the meat from her butcher. He was giving her lousy cuts, and started to not have meats she wanted. She complained to my husband’s dad, who mentioned this to his barber. The barber said, “I have a great butcher, who if you went to and mentioned my name would treat her really well. However, he wouldn’t accept your wife knowing she was quitting another butcher. They sort of have loyalty to each other not to steal customers. What I suggest is to go to my butcher, and tell him your old butcher just died. Then he’d happily accept her as a customer.” So, that’s what my mother-in-law did.
A fond memory I have, which I have described in a past post, was the friendliness of proprietors of the food grease trucks that used to be at my alma mater. There were about six trucks right near each other. People would pick a truck, and if you were a regular, you were treated very well. It happened that I almost always ordered Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar. My chosen grease truck guy knew that, and knew the exact time I would come. Each day I didn’t even have to order it. It would be ready for me as I walked up to the truck. Imagine if I just went to another truck and left my regular grease truck guy holding the tea? I wouldn’t dare do such a thing! Big trouble would brew (forgive the pun), and I’d probably never be welcome at the old truck again.
Do you have a service or product provider you’re loyal to? Have you ever received a scolding after being MIA for a while? Ever see one you left in public and duck down behind a car to hide?