July 11, 2013

Raise your hand if you have a hotspot — some business that you frequent* despite alternatives (if any), simply because you like it and it’s your favorite. For example, coffee — there are seemingly dozens of coffee shops on every highway and shopping center, but do you single out one and always go to it for your coffee or tea? Do you have one grocery store? One restaurant? One gym? If so, pat yourself on the back because you’re a loyal customer and you’re keeping your favorite business(es) alive.

I’m almost comically easy to find. Every few days when I need to pick up a lot of fruit, I walk or run 3.2 miles to Portland Fruit West — despite there being at least one produce store on the way. Despite being able to go to almost any 24 Hour Fitness in the Portland Metro Area, I only go to the one near Cedar Hills. Pre-workout, if I failed to properly load myself up with fruit, I’ll grab an interesting mix of produce from Salsa Mexican Grocery ignoring other grocery stores in the same area. Sometimes after a long workout I like to relax over tea, so I walk to the Starbucks next to the Fred Meyer on Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy and get work/studying done, despite other Starbucks and coffee shops being closer. If it’s past midnight and I want to get some writing in, I choose to stay at Ava Roastaria overnight instead of my own home.

That’s a total of five businesses I frequent most days of the week — anyplace else I happen to visit is an anomaly.

So now why is this important? One thing that I’ve experienced as a loyal customer at various businesses over 10 years is that I get extra attention, I get discounts, I sometimes get free stuff, and I’ve even received job offers in the past. I’ve made friends, associates, and a schedule that’s familiar but vibrant — I only spend time on businesses that have something special. Be it one-of-a-kind employees, or a fantastic design which improves my productivity, or incredible prices/incredible stock, or a combination of the above. I’ll run the extra mile for the superior experience, always, and it works.

Try something for me. If there are places you visit interchangeably, cut off the one(s) which you like the least. Give yourself only one coffee shop, and one grocery store, and one gym. See how your life improves in tiny ways even if it’s inconvenient to not have a ton of variety. After businesses realize that they’re exclusive to you, you’ll notice, and because you’re choosing the best experiences, it won’t get boring.

* Where you work doesn’t count.

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