In certain industries, customer education can generate immediate sales. That's particularly the case for specialtyretailers, who often have an untapped opportunity to teach customers about the products they sell.
Barnstable Grocery, a gourmet and specialty foods store, in Hyannis, Mass., put that theory into practice when it organizedcooking classes. At first, the store offered free classes taught by local chefs and cooking instructors, attracting as many as 100people per session. Later, then-owner Ron Cardoos taught the classes himself, charging $20 per session. He figures thatalthough he was just breaking even on the fee, he was probably getting an additional $500 to $750 in sales after every class,since customers often bought the products he cooked with. Moreover, by teaching the classes himself, he had greater controlover which products he showcased. He also established closer contact with customers. "It's selling," he says, "but it doesn'tcome across that way."