As the summer winds down my thoughts often stray to favorite vacation spots, wishing I had had the chance to visit this summer, or that I could have spent just a little more time there. At the top of my list is the beautiful island of Nantucket. Now I am not a preppy person by any means. I don’t carry a woven (albeit masterfully done) basket as a purse, I believe tennis shoes belong on the tennis court, and the only thing draped around my shoulders is my husbands’ arm. But something about this island really works for me and makes me feel relaxed and at ease. Whether you head out to the 82 miles of available beach or go directly into town for a 5-star meal or to shop some the hottest designer apparel and accessories, it all feels right.
This is the result of an active community that will fight tooth and nail to maintain the integrity of their home. A community that will gladly give up what most “mainlanders” consider conveniences, to stay true to their culture and values. And whether they realize or not, it is a community with a natural knack for branding. Even the Ralph Lauren store on Main Street, Nantucket’s first major retail chain store and a giant source of conflict and controversy among the residents, manages to embody the beachy-casual sophistication and friendliness of the island. Each boutique contributes to the overall Nantucket experience to the point where I’m buying and looking at things I’d never notice in my everyday life in New York City. And it’s not just “I have to get that cool $100 decorative lobster made of twisted banana leaves and metal wire” (which I did), but also “I have to get that gorgeous black vinyl Chloe bag that I totally ignored at Bergdorfs last week, pronto!” (which in this particular case, I did not. My husband, indulgent as he is with my love-at-first-site relationships with beautiful handbags, “convinced” me that $1500 for a vinyl bag would be pushing the limits of good sense. But still…*sigh*). And as much as I like to think otherwise, I’m not special! Everyone I talk to has an “I got swept up in the moment” story where they bought something on vacation that they would never have considered in real life. Yes you have a totally different mindset when you’re on vacation, and you’re generally more indulgent with gifts (for yourself or others), food and drink. But there’s another hand at work, and that is of the retailer. These people know their window of opportunity is limited and the summer months can make or break their year. They take it upon themselves to understand, from the inside out, their customers, their triggers, and their needs. Being a part of the wonderful brand of Nantucket got customers into their door, but their knowledge of their customer is going to get them to pay the bills. Uncompromising values? Check. Working with your environment? Check. Understanding and anticipating what will make your customers happy and satisfied? Check and check. These are all the makings of successful customer experiences. And the more I think about it, there’s no reason I shouldn't’t feel as good shopping at home as I do shopping on vacation.