In preparation for a weekend trip to Chicago, I wanted to get my dear friend Lois something unique from Richmond as a hostess gift. What better place than Tinkers to find the right item. In particular, I’m a fan of the locally created Bad Girl items: tiles, notebooks, napkins and more. According to their website, Tinkers is open until 6:00 PM. I arrived at 5:10 on Thursday night to find the lights off and the sign on the door saying they close at 5:00! Since there were still cars in the parking lot, I went to the front door where I was greeted by the owner telling me “we’re closed, but come on in, I’m still here.”

She turned on the lights and I told her what I was looking for – items for Lois plus a simple gift for a one-year old and a baby shower gift for Richard’s godson’s first child. Sharon the owner walked me through her baby section, pointing out items, talking about the popularity, uniqueness and price points of many items. We settled on a zebra book for the one-year old, and some cool socks and Johnny Cash lullabies for the not-yet-born. Sharon continued on through the store, pointing out different hostess gifts and asking the right questions about what I wanted to take Lois. I decided on some Bad Girl items for Lois including the tile “Martini is the answer, I just forgot the question.”

Sharon carefully wrapped all the gifts, including their special bows, even though she knew they’d be crushed in my suitcase. “Well at least they’ll know we tried,” was her perfect comment to that situation. I offered to pay by check since their register was already turned off – and then Sharon realized she hadn’t written down the product codes. She asked if I would leave a blank check for her and she’d call me in the morning with the total, and put the receipt in the mail to me. She wrote down my number and I was out the door in about a half an hour.

The next morning I received a text with the total of my purchases, and the receipt was in my mailbox on Saturday along with a note thanking me for shopping at Tinkers and being understanding about her not being able to process the purchase as she normally would.

I’ve been thinking about this experience ever since – and couldn’t wait to blog about it. How many other retailers would stay open late for a customer and be so graceful about it? Would her employees have done the same or was it because she’s the owner? If other retailers would be so customer service oriented, would they just be the small, private ones or would the manager at Kroger or Starbucks do the same for me? Not sure, but I’m certainly keeping tabs.

And in the meantime, Lois was thrilled with her gifts, the bows weren’t all that crushed, and I’m an even more loyal fan of Tinkers. Visit them sometime soon!

– Maggi