(January, 2010)

"S.O.S. - Save our Stuff! (And the Local Economy)"

Happy New Year!

I don't know about you (and I don't consider myself materialistic) but I love STUFF! I love the wonderful smells and fresh flavors at the local bakeries and market. I love the unique trinkets and jewelry at some of the local shops in our town. Does beauty time at the salon count as stuff? I also love the smiles, friendly chatter and name recognition I get from the folks at smaller stores...ahhh...I'm a sucker for good SERVICE too! There's something's so different about the quality and experience at local independent shops. It's like Grandma's cookies; love is baked in, and boy, are they better!

Getting to my point....2009 may have turned out to be a year that many folks want to forget. Bad economy, lost jobs, bail outs, foreclosures - Ughh, the words just turn my stomach. Many of us personally had to cut back on our "stuff" just to get by. Nestled in Red Bank, we've seen a lot of fellow businesses "go out" because of this...the effects of which reach deeper into the community as more jobs, services and revenue are lost. With all this bad news, are there any good stories to be heard? Is there anything we can do to help this dreary situation? Will anyone really care if I make an effort to help? My answer is YES, YES, and YES!

So if you can bear the next few sentences as I talk about myself and climb up on a soapbox briefly... your heart will enjoy an encouraging story, you'll feel appreciated and empowered having learned about a cause that I believe we can all benefit from! (continue below)

I am happy to report that I am here reporting to you...Queen Vacuum is alive and well! Don't get me wrong, our 2009 began rather grim like many other folks - business was slow. But though encouragement of our customers and digging deep to rediscover the passion we have for our business, we fought back! Graman's/Queen Vacuum has been a staple in Red Bank for over 50 years....Give up now? No way! We reevaluated some things, and then implemented a variety of strategies to improve our service. We reached out, sought advice and made new friends. And after quite a roller coaster ride, because of your overwhelming response to our actions this year, 2009 went from the worst to the BEST year Queen Vacuum's ever had! How on Earth is that possible? I'd be lying if I said I knew exactly why - All I can tell you is what we did...

First we stepped up our efforts in our local Chamber of Commerce (love you guys!) We made some great business friends and connections which were both encouraging, and helped us strengthen our business foundation. Next we took a look at our products – we did away with some lines and took on new ones that better reflected our customers’ wants and needs. We found the Miele brand vacuums to be a great fit!

We also began using a few new tools to help us get more feedback and help our customers shop! We made Customer Service Surveys available to let us know what you think. Vacuum Purchase Questionnaires helped us and our customers decide together which vacuum is best for them. Our Referral Program helped our existing customers to more easily send their friends here for help. In return, we mailed out countless thank you’s with over $500 in referral rewards Gift Cards!

Most notably - We also began this Newsletter! In our type of business, when things are good, we don’t see our customers that often. This e-mail tool helped us to answer your questions, provide fun and helpful tips, while keeping you abreast of the new products, programs and services you asked for!

Lastly, we joined the ranks on Facebook – which has been great fun! It’s our fastest means of communicating news, addressing your concerns and sending coupons - so we hope you’ll become and fan of Queen Vacuum today and never miss a beat!

So what does this have to do with you? Quite simply, we're in this economy together, and businesses and consumers rely on each other more than you may realize! Businesses provide you the stuff you need in life, as well as essential jobs, tax revenue, etc. But without customers' consistent patronage, the owner's can't afford to stock the products you like, hire help or keep their doors open at all. So who do you "affect?" What do your actions and dollars support? Below, you'll see how when you spend locally, you support your neighbors, friends, community and ultimately, yourself too!

(Here's the "CAUSE" part) Do you have any idea how much more of your money STAYS/GOES BACK INTO your community when you spend it in a local, brick and mortar store (versus a large national chain or online?) I stumbled upon this great movement called the "3/50 project." I encourage you to review these interesting statistics and learn more about what you can do to save your local economy by visiting www.the350project.net. Wait 'til you see what a difference YOU can make (and it won't hurt one bit!) Start by taking a moment to think about which "independent" businesses you'd miss most if they were gone...Stop in, say "hello" and direct a few of the dollars you'd spend on "stuff" anyway there!

Despite the down economy and gloomy news - you invested your time, trust and dollars in our little store. With that you've supported the lives of a young, local couple (plus all of the vendors we purchase from and their families!) Queen Vacuum delivered the practical, quality products and personalized service you sought. And because of you, we are able to continue serving you and our entire community!

So in closing, we want to THANK our beloved Customers, the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce (EMACC), Red Bank RiverCenter, good friends and the big guy upstairs for the BEST year Queen Vacuum has ever had! It's truly amazing and we are so very, very grateful and humbled. We plan to continue on this positive path, and ask for your continued guidance and feedback in the future! Please don't forget...
"We've been RIGHT here all along" and we plan to keep it that way!

Sincerely wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!

By: Rachel Decker


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