There were two significant events Saturday in Aylmer, similar, yet quite different... Michabou bookstore marked its move to a new location in the Galeries Aylmer with a very-well attended fête – four local authors, several speeches and announcements, plus exquisite snacks! A few hours later, the Bamboo restaurant marked a major anniversary in Aylmer – 40 years.
Usually the Bulletin celebrates new business launches, or new ideas and concepts, so it was interesting to focus on the successes of existing businesses. Staying power is as demanding, or more, than the effort and planning needed to launch a new venture. Surrounded by creditors, a banker or two, and steadily increasing costs, customers who will drive half-an-hour outside of town to save two dollars, not to mention competition that seems to boil out of the woodwork following every new enterprise, keeping a business going after the initial launch is a huge and long-term challenge. There are important lessons to be learned from those that are succeeding, and about what is still needed in our local retail economy.
Last Saturday, customer relations were the head-line. Both events were well-populated by clients and friends, all happy to celebrate an accomplishment in our town. Both of these businesses, in a sense, struggle against major stereotypes – the bookstore’s being that people today are reading less from hard-copy books, and that publishers and independent bookstores, especially, are suffering from this trend. Apparently it isn’t a statistical trend, rather a prejudice or supposition!
Michabou bookstore has seen its business increase, not decline, and the move to the Galeries has apparently increased customer traffic and aided in sales. Owner Lorraine Dubois recounted having starting with a single employee, and now names a list of employees needed by the bookstore.
Likewise for the Bamboo. The prejudice it struggles against concerns linguistic communities, and its historical dependency, in part, on the anglophone community. Too many observers falsely believe this community is in decline here. The Bamboo filled its own reception hall with over 200 appreciative clients! No shortage of support, and, also, there was no shortage of support within both linguistic communities.
The Bamboo banquet included public comments about the restaurant and the Seto family – comments demonstrating an incredible customer-service relationship. So many testimonies referred to the Seto family, and especially to Peter Seto, now deceased, their involvement with the community and especially with the lives and families of their employees.
Anyone glued to a screen could easily assume the world has been turned upside-down: people no longer read hard-copy nor do we read in full sentences -- and clients no longer eat out. Those are urban myths. Saturday’s celebrations proved this. And stronger customer service proved to be the reason. Congratulations to our town’s business veterans!