Providing value added services for customers a recipe for success
By Dave Clark
A number of years ago I drove across the American plains on the way back from the Pacific Coast and for several hundred miles, from Wyoming to the Badlands of South Dakota, I kept seeing roadside signs indicating it was only so many more miles to ‘Wall Drug.’
As the distance reduced, the signs began to read ‘Wall Drug – Free Ice Water.’ On that day in late July, with the temperature hovering in the 90F range, the vision of a cold drink certainly appealed. So when I reached the community of Wall, South Dakota, it was an easy decision to stop to check things out.
It turned out that several decades earlier, Wall had been a tiny crossroads community boasting little more than a drug store and a couple hundred residents, scattered in the midst of endless miles of rolling prairie farmland.
Due to the population density of that area the drug store was struggling to survive. The drug store owner and his wife, seeing the number of cars passing by on this cross country route, came up with the idea of road signs advertizing free ice water as a ploy to get travelers to stop at their store. And it worked beyond their dreams.
It worked so successfully the drug store had to expand to provide more and more services. By the time I drove into town, Wall Drug covered the area of a good sized shopping mall and provided almost as many services. The parking lot was packed.
Often now, when I visit Masstown Market, I’m reminded of the similarities to Wall Drug.
Masstown Market is an example of a local business that over the past few years has grown to provide a wide variety of goods and services to travelers on the Trans Canada Highway and to residents up and down the Fundy north shore.
Being located in a rural area might have been a disadvantage in its earlier stages, but Masstown Market, like Wall Drug, has expanded to meet the needs of those who stop there. It has built a far-reaching reputation for friendly country service at very reasonable prices.
This is another example of what is possible when a business is willing to take a chance by expanding to provide value-added services for customers. The business becomes a destination in itself that does wonders for the community around it.
The Farmers’ Market in Tatamagouche also has the potential to become such a destination. A drive through Tatamagouche on a Saturday morning is a slow-down process with cars lining Main Street and with capacity parking within a half-kilometer radius of the Creamery Square complex.
What would Tatamagouche be like if this experience happened on more days of the week? What if there were other entertainment activities available to attract families for a day’s outing at other times?
Perhaps more people could be convinced to come from even farther away. A must for any successful enterprise is widespread advertizing and promotion to draw potential customers to its location. Catchy signage makes a huge difference.
If I were to make a small suggestion, going back to all the Wall Drug signs spread across the empty expanses of the American plains, it would be for both Masstown Market and the Tatamagouche Farmers’ Market to increase the number and visibility of their highway advertising signs between the New Brunswick border and New Glasgow.
An iconic lighthouse helps, but why not have a few more enticing signs to tell where they are located and how much farther it is to get there. And yes, it is possible to get free ice water in the food court at Masstown Market.
Dave Clark is a longtime resident of Truro who feels we can do more to attract tourists to our area.