Saugatuck Spice Merchants. I encouraged HyeSun to ditch the husband and the kids at the park for half an hour and escape with me to the best little culinary experience in the United States. The staff was wonderful ly informative and the products were amazing--just like the last time I was there four years ago, and HyeSun and I bonded over Bamboo rice, purple sticky rice and green tea, as well as cocoa nibs and coffee BBQ rubs. Run, do not walk, to the nearest store. Fortunately, there is one in Ann Arbor.
The experience was much different than at American Spoon. The staff there tended to just replenish the tasting spoons and crackers, they didn't engage with any of the customers about what made their products special. Worse than that, they seemed to be annoyed by all the customers who dropped in the store to sample their wares. It was as though we owed them something. As well-known as they seem to be, (there have been some rave reviews on their website/mail order business), I've seen the same snobby attitude from all their salespeople in other stores around the state. I have purchased some items, but not many. While I liked what I bought, I haven't felt enthusiastic about the company nor anyone representing it. Not enough to tell a good mother and wife to abandon her children for a few precious minutes with a grumpy husband.
But I did purchase items at both places. My friend, HyeSun, with a more discriminating palate than I, bought only at one, where the clerk did not treat her as an inconvenience and actually smiled at her. The other place had two people stand there behind the counter, making catty remarks. One of them noted my company's logo on my hat and wondered where in town I could possibly be working. I told her I was from out of town, but my store is reasonably busy. She made some comment about how tough that was, and I said, no. It wasn't. I've done it for 10 years. I just happen to be good at what I do and I also happen to like people. The other clerk just turned around with his back to me.
And I nearly said....that I sell a hell of a lot more in two hours than you could possibly sell all week, I bet but I think I said enough already.