I often take my business to small, privately-owned stores whenever possible. The service just does not compare. People who are personally invested in their business just KNOW how to treat a customer (most of the time- and those who don't won't get my money, plain and simple).
I hardly ever get 'fast' food anymore.
Hubster wanted Popeye's Chicken. We go to the drive-thru, place our order, pay for it, and are told to pull over to the side, in another parking lot (theirs isn't big enough), to wait. We wait 20 MINUTES, they finally come out, and the've not only messed up our order but forgotten the BBQ sauce (which hubby HAS to have or the world will end), which we'd sked for nicely TWICE during our time at the speaker and window. I tell the this, they snort and say, rolling their eyes, to drive through the ine again. Umm, no thanks! I ALREADY waited 20 minutes! There were three other cars waiting by me, and three in line. No way, buddy.
I went to McDonald's on the way to work to get a salad, since they had that new menu (never ate there much before) item. I order, pay, and am asked again to pull over to the side. In ten minuted, there are FIVE MORE CARS out there with me, all waiting. We were all crammed off to the side, no one could move their car. We were all just looking at each other, fuming. I finally (after I was going to be late for work, thank you) go inside and say, nice as can be, "Can I please get my salad? I've been waiting for 17 minutes and am now going to be late for work. There are five other cars out there with me, all waiting for items that weren't ready." They look at me and hand me my bag, which had been sitting on the counter for gosh knows how long. I just about lost it. I mean, really, come on!!! I am not a hostile person, but I felt VIOLENT.
Okay, so this is more about the 'fast' part of fast food, but it's customer service all the same. ;>)
Now, to the other end, I went to Barnes and Noble (go there ALL the time) a few weeks (like, three) ago and the clerk who checked me out was the nicest guy I'd ever met!!! He was super friendly, and was nice to all the people in front of me in line. When I checked out, he made a comment about my book choices, and the fact that I spent a nice chunk of money on a big pile of books. My husband had gone outside as he has the attention span of a gnat, so he missed it all. Really sweet guy. Three weeks later (the other day), we went back to the book store. The same guy was there to check us out, and he actually remembered me, remembered the book I got, asked me if I'd liked it, called me by name (okay, he said it a little wrong, but there was NO way he could have known this because I paid with cash, but he somehow managed to remember this, which amazed me). My husband, who for once was present, stared at me in shock. We walked out and DH was like, "Whoa, he was SO flirting with you! I'm jealous!" and I was like, "No, sweetie, he's just a really good employee." And I mean that. I think I'm going to send a note to the bookstore, now that I think of it. It's so rare around here to get good service. People need to know they're appreciated (like me...someone appreciate me!!!).
My husband and I always notice how, when we cross the state line, everyone changes, so I fear it is just my home state. Everytime we're in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida...he always comments about the vast difference in the way people treat you.