Lost: One Birthday Gift / Found: Amazing Customer Service

Joy Barton

I want to share a letter with you, and then a bit more about the story – because this is the kind of story that makes us locals nod our heads in understanding, and not-so-locals perhaps understand a bit better why we are such a special community.

Here is the letter – sent from Joy Barton, who lives in Seattle, WA to Marci Plank, La Conner Chamber of Commerce Executive Director :



I’d like to tell you a great story. I love La Conner and went up for a day by myself on June 25th.  I looked in all the shops for the perfect birthday gift for my daughter and, toward the end of the day, I found a necklace and earring set in the Cottons store. I was tired and ready to ‘just go home’. I stopped at one more store near my car and tried on a few things.

When I got home I realized I had left my package in the last store. I was so disappointed. I couldn’t even remember the store’s name. After a few days, I decided I would try to recover the jewelry and so I called Cottons. I paid with cash, so all I could do was describe what I bought and more importantly, try to figure out where I went next!

The woman on the phone was very patient and walked up the block with me mentally, until we came to the only store she could imagine I had stopped at – the Country Lady. I thanked her and gave the County Lady a call.

The woman at the Country Lady did have the package I left! When I told her it was a gift for my daughter she asked when her birthday was. When I said  “July 2nd”, she replied “If I put it in the mail this afternoon, you should get it on time”. Sure enough, the package arrived the day before her birthday. I left the mailing paper on it and told my daughter the story as she was opening it.

The woman had even wrapped the box in some festive paper!

I sent a note to the Country Lady today, and I thought it would be good for the Chamber to know the story too.

Sincerely, Joy Barton


When I read that story I felt like we all needed to know the ‘rest of the story’ because there are amazingly caring shopkeepers involved who absolutely understand the meaning of providing incredible customer service.

Today I stopped by The Country Lady and chatted with Jan McGehee and Sharon Busony. They are as lovely and kind-hearted and wonderful as Joy (the missing-gift letter-writer) thinks they are. In between helping a lot of happy and very busy shoppers, they found a few minutes to talk to me about Joy’s missing birthday gift. I asked Jan about sending the gift to Joy, mentioning that not many store owners would go to all that trouble. Jan simply said, “Why wouldn’t they? It didn’t take all that much extra time, and it was the right thing to do.” And that, plain and simple, is why people love shopping in La Conner. Our shopkeepers get it. They know that taking care of customers comes back to them one-hundred-fold. Good karma makes for even more good karma.

Jan McGehee

Joy was so thankful, she even sent Jan money to cover the postage. Which Jan says was completely unnecessary – but she understands how Joy might have felt. A birthday gift for someone special is important … especially when it’s gone missing, then found, then mailed, then opened, then cherished because there’s a wonderful story that goes along with the gift giving.

As to the’ rest of the story’ – it turns out that the staff from Cottons took Joy’s initial call and helped her figure out where she might have left her package. After visiting with Jan and Sharon I walked up the street Cottons. It was also full of shoppers as well … which really isn’t surprising at all … given the caliber of shops we have here in La Conner! I can easily imagine it was a very busy day the day Joy called Cottons; I also can imagine a very caring staff member trying to assist customers, while standing in the doorway looking up and down the street, helping Joy determine where she had stopped last and perhaps left her birthday gift.

Why do I think this is such a neat story? Well, here’s the bottom line for me: (You will find that I often have a ‘bottom line’ to my posts. They are like my version of an Aesop’s Fables with a moral at the end of the story. They are, in effect, my way of getting to the point of my post.) I shop in La Conner.  And yes, I shop elsewhere in the Skagit Valley. But stories like this remind me that in La Conner the shopkeepers really do care about their customers. They go out of their way – no, they go WAY out of their way – simply because it’s the right thing to do. That’s very cool in my book.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a birthday gift, like Joy was, you’re ready to shop for something special for yourself, or you’re looking for something to do for a couple of hours on a gorgeous summer afternoon – come visit La Conner and meet our fabulous shopkeepers.

Like Joy, you’ll be very glad you did! (But please keep track of your packages – you’ll have a lot less stress to deal with if they go home with you.)

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