Engaging customers pays off for vintage shop

Wayne Jordan reveals how a nearly new (two-and-a-half years) antique shop could develop enough of a devoted following to win a coveted "Best Of" award.
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“Not your average antique shop” read the Nashua Telegraph headline. Indeed, I thought; I’ve heard it all before. Perhaps I’ve become jaded over the years, but it’s hard to impress me.

Evidence is in customer reviews

Antique shops come and go; what makes Snap! It’s Vintage so special, I wanted to know? So, I read the article https://bit.ly/2DG7WTn, checked out their Google and Facebook [https://bit.ly/2qWlaTP] reviews, browsed their Etsy shop [https://www.etsy.com/shop/Snapitsvintage], scanned their Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/Snapitsvintage/], and performed a Google search of the business.

I was impressed.

How is it that a nearly new (two-and-a-half years) shop could develop enough of a devoted following to win the Nashua Telegraph’s “Best of Greater Nashua” award in the competitive Collectibles Shop category?I wanted to know more, so I called the shop and spoke with Regina Lang, who, with her husband Edward, owns the business.

Snap! It’s Vintage earned the Greater Nashua award for Best Collectibles Shop in 2018.

Snap! It’s Vintage earned the Greater Nashua award for Best Collectibles Shop in 2018.

We chatted about the usual retail concerns: merchandising, inventory, picking, marketing, social media, and so on. Before closing the call, I asked the “killer question”: What, more than anything else, would you say is responsible for your success? Without pause, she answered: “engaging our customers.”

Here’s a glimpse of how Snap! It’s Vintage engages their customers and why they have become so popular in such a short time; the snippets below are taken directly from their Google and Facebook reviews, where they have earned 4.8 and 5.0 out of 5 stars, respectively.

The Langs treat Snap! customers as if they are guests in their home. Upon entering, customers are greeted warmly and offered a beverage. Regina brings homemade baked goods on the weekend. Quoted in the Telegraph article, Regina says: “I always wanted to open a store but wanted it to be more like a home.” Do customers enjoy being treated this way? Indeed they do, as these reviewers point out:

“...the warmth you feel the second you walk in; ‘Welcome to Snap! Would you like some coffee, tea, or cocoa?’ The back room is my favorite; fireplace burning, Tuscan-style ambiance. Thanks, Snap, for sharing your love.” 

“The owner is an absolute dream, she has snacks and tea for you while you shop! Little handmade succulents too.”

Regina and Edward’s love for antiques apparently rubs off onto their customers:

“I absolutely love, love, love this store and the owners...my (7 year old) son got a history lesson from the gentleman owner, as well as some coins that he keeps raving about; the woman owner took a picture of me in the most beautiful dress (and) said I looked stunning; my son totally loved the place and was glowing and smiling when we left; he said he had so much fun!!”

A seven-year old boy having fun in a vintage shop with his mom? There’s a family that will certainly be return customers. It’s clear that the Langs make their inventory come alive, telling stories and “sharing the love.”

Several reviewers mentioned that they look forward to returning to the shop. One such customer left this review:

“Just visited today for the first time and don’t know what took me so long! Adorable store and the owner and staff are so NICE! Got some adorable glassware and this will definitely be a regular haunt!”

Another customer mentions that it was the reviews that brought him to the store in the first place:

“Went in because of the stellar reviews, and they were right! A little bit of everything at good prices, so you know things won’t last—and it’s a place I can stop-by every week and find something new; I’ll def be back really soon!”

Continually refreshing their inventory keeps customers coming back. Like most antique dealers, the Langs have a lot of inventory in storage units; they keep three units, in fact.

Unlike most dealers, they rotate their store and storage merchandise frequently. Doing so requires a lot of time and effort, but the benefits are clear. Says Regina in the Telegraph article: “You can never come in here and expect to see the same thing, because it’s either sold or moved to storage.” She continues: “I want you to come in here and then come in two weeks later thinking, ‘Wow it’s so different.’ You know, some shops you go in six months later and nothing is different.”

Part of the appeal of Snap! It’s Vintage is the accessibility of the merchandise. The Langs want their customers to feel comfortable picking up and inspecting items. There are no “You break it you bought it” signs in Snap! It’s Vintage.

“Adorable little shop! Filled to the brim with interesting and cute pieces, you can tell every display is put together with love and care.”

“Delightful shop. Love everything about it. Unique items, interesting layout, amazing displays and charm.”

“Every nook and cranny of the store features quality vintage treasures, so artfully arranged that you can’t help but feel like you’ve just walked onto a decades-old movie set.”

Snap! also engages customers by creating unique promotional events. Crystal Cobb reports in The Great American Downtown [https://bit.ly/2Tk4hPC]: 

“This week at Snap! they are having a Wedding Expo event. This event will feature wedding dresses and vintage decor along with jewelry, accessories and historical photographs to inspire you. There will be plenty of food and herbal door prizes, for all attendees.”

The Langs take advantage of downtown Main Street events as well, as this reviewer points out:

“Discovered this gem of a store in Downtown Nashua yesterday during the music festival ... the only thing more delightful than the store is the owners, Regina and Ed. Put this shop on your must-visit list next time you’re on Main Street.”

As I read the reviews and articles about Snap! It’s Vintage, I was struck by how frequently reviewers and the owners used the word “love”: Customers love the store, and the Langs love their customers and their merchandise.

Quoted in the Telegraph, Regina says: “I’ve loved antiques, always just loved them ... Being a small business, you meet so many new people and make so many friends ... I didn’t know anyone in Nashua when I came here … but you meet some of the greatest people. The kind of people who come in, they’re really great. They love the same things I do.”

In these days of corporate mission statements, the Lang’s mission is clear: share the love. 

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