On my recent trip to Sedona I came across a small liquor store called Vom Fass which sold a unique bevy of whiskey, rye, scotch and the like. I was impressed with the selection as well as the set up so I decided to return the following day for a tasting and to purchase a bourbon to take home with me.

Upon arriving the second day we stood in the shop and waited… and waited… and waited… then we waited a bit longer as we were ignored by not one, not two, but three staff members – one of which remained solely focused on an elderly couple of perceived visual affluence.

Granted, I wasn’t donned in perfectly pressed khakis and a tucked in polo, but I was not dressed poorly – especially compared to the median dress attire of a tourist destination such as Sedona.

More importantly, I was an interested (and viable) consumer standing right in the store. No marketing or advertising effort was required to be expended as I was literally standing there ready to make a purchase – if only someone would pay attention to me.

Instead, all three employees made eye contact several times and then quickly looked away to do something else. Never once did someone offer me service or say that someone would be right with me to help us. It just became increasingly apparent that the staff assumed that I didn’t have the financial ability to afford any of their precious liquor.

I was judged either for my age, my attire or a combination of both and as a result – a consumer who loves trying and purchasing fine whiskey or bourbon was ignored.

I waited a bit longer until it became awkward that I was standing in the middle of their store, still receiving eye contact, only to continue to be ignored.

Eventually I left Vom Fass without willingly giving them any of the money I planned to.

Over the better part of a decade I’ve worked to grow my photo business and in that time there have been prospective clients who could not afford my services – regardless they are still treated with respect and sometimes a few will even return when they can afford my team’s work.

This would not be the case if I prejudged all potential clients with an egregious elitist attitude. I like to believe that we all must earn the business we get and constantly strive to re-earn it.

The lesson we can all learn from the staff at Vom Fass is how to drive prospective consumers away, not just for the day, but to lose a lifetime worth of sales.

James Patrick
IG @Jpatrickphoto