In 2000, I was in San Diego, California, for a conference. The day before the conference started, I had some time to kill and I needed a new travel bag with wheels and one of those extendable handles. So I went to the local mall with a colleague to do some research.

We split up and I went into a couple of shops. I nodded my hellos to the staff and I didn’t speak any more to a sales assistant. In the second store found the bag I thought I was looking for. I left the store and went to go find my buddy for a second opinion, as he travelled for work more than I did.

20 minutes later we came back into the store. ‘Welcome back’, said the sales assistant, a handsome African American bloke in his late-20’s. The store was Sharper Image.

What struck was that the guy remembered me. When he said ‘Welcome back’, I took the unspoken part of this to mean:

  • I noticed you come in before
  • You’re important to us
  • We pay attention to our prospects and customers
  • I want you to know that
  • We want to serve you so that you can become a customer

I bought the bag.

I still have the bag.