With the arrival of spring -- and the fly-fishing season -- I recently went to my local Walmart to secure my 2016 fishing license. After a few minutes standing at the sports supplies counter, an employee informed me the 'system was down' -- which I took to mean a faulty connection to the NYS Department of Conservation, which issues such licenses through participating retailers. The Walmart staffer suggested I go down the road a few blocks to Kmart. A little frustrated, but at least pleased to have received a suggestion for an alternative source, I headed for Kmart where walked up to the counter in the sports department with the selfsame objective... After grabbing a bottle of dish detergent I noticed on the way through the store, since it reminded me we needed some at home at that moment.
"Do you have fishing licenses here?" I asked optimistically.
The person behind the counter, who I soon discovered to be the department manager, looked at me suspiciously. "Mind if I ask if you came here first?"
"Well, no, since you ask. I went to Walmart first and their system was down."
"Hmmph..." he answered, with obvious disgust. "That always happens. And when it does, they send people here."
A little taken aback by his frankness, and annoyance, I asked "Well, you do still make some money on selling licenses, right?"
"Barely," he quipped. "At least YOU'RE buying something else. Most people just walk in, get the license, and walk out again without buying anything."
Overriding the impulse to do my best, Steve Martin-esque "Well excuuuuuussssseeee ME!" -- and swallowing my disbelief at how utterly inappropriate it was for a retail employee (let alone the danged department manager) to be overtly miffed at me for being so self-serving as to shop his Kmart for something the Walmart down the road didn't have -- the marketing side of my brain was nevertheless officially blown. Not just because the manager was rude, but because so many marketing opportunities weren't being realized.
A savvy marketer would not only have NOT whined at me about the situation, he would have:
In other words, consider me one more fish that got away.
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