The Power of One Dollar

by Bernie Arnason

 

I recently spent some time with my cousin Lori. Lori is married with kids and in her mid-forties.  I spent the weekend with Lori and her family and had a blast. But unfortunately, I learned during my time with my cousin and her family that Lori has somewhat of a dark secret. She has an addiction.

I’m generally empathetic to people with real addictions. When I first learned of Lori’s, I was lacking a little empathy. You see Lori is addicted…wait for it…to the Dollar Store. Dollar Tree in her case. At first, I didn’t recognize the addiction. I accompanied her on one visit – no big deal. Actually, my first visit to the Dollar Tree. I was like wow – everything in here really is a dollar. And there’s a lot of stuff in there. A LOT. But I digress.

Then, Lori went back to the Dollar Tree again the next day. I found that a little puzzling. Really? Did she forget something…at the dollar store? I asked her husband Rick about it and the look said it all. “Bernie, three to four times a week is the norm,” he tells me.

I’m no psychologist, but if you’re visiting the Dollar Tree four times a week, isn’t there some diagnosis there? I mean twice a week I could live with, but four? That’s twelve times a month. That’s a lot of dollars.

I asked Rick if he felt an intervention was needed. He laughed and said “good luck.” No intervention, but this is at least worth a conversation. “Lori, what’s up with the Dollar Tree?” I asked.

“It’s all about the hunt. I go in there and find so many things that are worth MORE than a dollar. Way more!” she tells me. “I turned my sister on to it and my co-workers too. Sometimes we go together.”

Wow. She’s become a brand ambassador for Dollar Tree. I suspect she’s not alone, because Dollar Tree was quite crowded during my time there. It got me to thinking – I’m sure lots of folks go to Dollar Tree because it’s…well…cheap. But not Lori. She and her husband do quite well. The Dollar Tree is the last place she NEEDS to shop.

But for her, it’s about experience. She gets validated and enthused behind the experience of buying stuff she doesn’t even really need and feeling like she got a bargain. Never mind she didn’t need what she bought. It’s an emotional trigger. Validation, I would assume.

I’m not sure there’s any grand lesson in these observations, other than the importance of connecting with customers on an emotional level. If it’s just a transaction, then the chance of winning a brand ambassador like Lori is probably pretty slim.

But if you’re lucky enough to find a way to connect with a customer or two emotionally, you may just have a customer for life. One who invites her friends and family to the party too.

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