Wouldn't you like your retail customers to say, "I love that store, I wish I could spend all my time there"? Sandy Hollow Herb Company knows that customer emotions are tied to the store's ambiance. "When people walk into our store, they are overwhelmed by sights, sounds, and smells," says Mickey Robertaccio, owner of this specialty store, in Wilmington, Del. "It's not unusual for a customer to ask, 'Can I bottle this and take it home?' "

Sandy Hollow Herb tries to deliver superior service and generate lasting customer ties by creating a 30-minute vacation--an experience, rather than just a shopping trip with relaxing music. Careful thought goes into the intangibles of store design--including sight, sound, and smell--as well as into selecting staff who can create a community feeling. By providing seating in the herb garden, where customers can chat over a free cup of tea, the store becomes a sanctuary. Customers often bring their lunches to eat in the garden and momentarily escape their busy work environments.

According to Robertaccio, creating a customer haven pays off. Up to 400 customers a week visit her store. Many of her regular customers are individuals who initially came to lunch in the garden.

Copyright 1999 G&J USA Publishing