Karin LaRonde runs a small business delivering meals to homes and offices in and around Charlottetown. She also has a stall at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market.
I first tasted her food at the Uncommon Grocer (which I insist on calling the Urban Grocer for some reason) when it first opened out on University Avenue: they carried her sushi there, and especially in that day, this was something of a culinary revolution.
Later I heard raves from friends who were customers of her lunchtime meal delivery service.
And recently Oliver and I have gotten into the habit of stopping by her market stall on Saturday mornings to pick up something for a mid-morning snack (Oliver loves her sushi and I’ve become very partial to her iced tea, which is probably the best iced tea you can get on the Island).
This past Saturday Oliver and I showed up as usual for a snack on Saturday morning (and also to pick up some rabbit hair from across the aisle, but that’s another story). I reached for my wallet only to realize that I only had American money. Sigh, I thought, no snack this week.
Upon hearing of my plight, Karin, without skipping a beat, told me to take the sushi and pay her next week.
Now this is probably because Karin’s a nice person, and knows me a little, but mostly I think it’s just Good Business. Good business because when you trust your customers, treat them as a part of your community, and engender a symbiotic relationship with them, everyone wins.
The frightening thing is how rarely this happens in business, and how it almost never happens at all with companies that are bigger than Karin’s company of one. As soon as you get big enough to have policies about things you become a slave to procedure and we all become less human.
In other words, if we were happy customers of Karin’s before, we are devoted customers now.
Disclosure: After hearing through the grapevine that I’d said nice things about her business before in this space, Karen offered Oliver and I a free plate of sushi on our fist visit to the market this spring, which I happily accepted and Oliver happily devoured.