It is a grocery store clerk mantra I typically hear as my groceries are being scanned and bagged. And, I am tired of it. I want to be surprised—tickled pink by what I found I was not looking for. Don’t give me mundane, functionally accurate, and “good enough.” Make my heart race, my mouth water, and my sight filled with eye candy that I never would have anticipated. Let go of strict consistency, predictability, and plain (a.k.a., safe) vanilla.  Give me a treasure hunt that makes me giggle, swoon, and want to rush out to tell the world.


I was in Fresh Market, an upscale grocery store about an hour from where I live. They had orchids in the entrance and classical music in the background. I spotted artichokes on the stalk, figgy pudding like in the “We Wish You a Merry…” carol, and freshly made rhubarb pie. The meat department had all manner of typical fish fare, plus atypical octopus. The bathroom was decorated with flowers and holiday sachet. It was a place you would bring your out-of-town guests as a destination location or one you would go way out of your way to shop.


Clearly the target market of Fresh Market is different than your everyday Pretty Good Grocery and Tackle Shop. All stores cannot stay afloat by stocking low-demand items on shelf space that costs the same as that used for popular products. In the end, a business thrives when it provides what its customers want, when they want it, at a fair price. This is about the thinking behind the customer’s experience. So, don your most whimsical hat, take a few risks, and turn your enterprise into something sparkly and joyful. Let the mantra of 2021 be, “What are ways we surprised you?”