No pictures! No pictures!

Hy-Vee DeliMy favorite Hy-Vee Supermarket reopened today after a year-long renovation and expansion. I stopped by to get some lunch from the deli (where I get 90% of my hot meals) and took a photo. I would have taken more but one of the corporate neckties came running over to tell me I couldn’t take photos. You can see half of him in this picture.

“It’s okay,” I told him, “I’m a regular. My wife’s out of town on business and couldn’t be here so I’m gonna send her a photo.”

“There will be ‘approved photos’ in the local newspaper. I have no way of knowing what you’re going to do with any pictures.”

I’m sure that…let’s call him “Phil”…Phil has every legal right to tell me I can’t take a photo in his new store. Underlying his panic at the sight of my little Casio, however, is his lack of trust in a customer. He assumed I’d do something nefarious, like race down to Gerbe’s (a competing store)…

smays: (Pant, gasp) “I’ got ’em! I got ’em! Photos of the new deli at Hy-Vee!”
Gerbe’s Store Manger: “Quick, let’s see ’em. We’ve got to plan our strategy!”

As I was checking out, one of the local Hy-Vee guys came over to ask what was going on and I explained.

“What?! (exasperated sound) He’ll be gone tomorrow. You can come back and take as many photos as you like.”


So, “Phil,” this post is for you. I’m thrilled to have a bigger, newer, better Hy-Vee and plan to spend even more time and money in your great store. Give my best to the guys in marketing and public relations.

4 thoughts on “No pictures! No pictures!

  1. I DO get a cheerful smile at Hy-Vee. I think the guy from corporate was probably a hall monitor or Patrol Boy (student crossing guard) when he was younger. He felt compelled to “control” the event of the opening. My camera was something he hadn’t planned on or approved.

  2. NO better breakfast than a weekend breakfast at my local Lee’s Summit Hy-Vee, talking to Charlie, Noble, and about 5 other over 65-year old guys, oggling at 45-year old ladies, and telling me war stories.
    So much for the “cheerful smile in every aisle,” eh?

  3. Good points by Steve F. And perhaps a good argument for businesses to have a blog. A place to explain how they operate and why. It would have been great if “Phil” had emailed or commented (and he still could, I suppose).
    Please know there was no harm/no foul in this case. My larger point was/is that things are changing in that consumers have platforms for expressing their anger (or satisfaction).
    I really have to turn the comments back on. Thanks, Steve.

  4. I agree on the trust issue. I’ve read the prerequisites: the Cluetrain, the Hughtrain and their modern daily derivatives. But I also read the Consumerist. And while I enjoy that site, I can see from it why retailers fear the camera. One consumer who has suffered a perceived wrong by a retailer can wreak havoc. Posts on the Consumerist can be brutal, and often pack pictures. I should confess here that I’ve never seen one that wasn’t likely to be righteous anger. Still, the possibility exists of sham shaming. All that said, I’m still on your side. Firms need understand they’re in a relationship that will be bolstered by trust in both directions.
    By the way, remember when — about 20-25 years ago — Wal-Mart used to take back merchandise with barely any scrutiny? In the today’s terms of conversation, trust, relationship, etc., the modern observer might say that Wal-Mart “got it” when it came to customer relationships. But the system was so abused by customers that Bentonville finally tightened the rules. We flay firms regularly for their missteps. Do we often enough turn focus on the mob, which, as human history proves, can do rotten things.
    Steve F., Mexico, Mo.

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