Polly* Had a Birthday Recently…

And in between some other madness, the ten-year old’s Mama and grandparents slipped in a birthday lunch at a favorite restaurant.

Where said ten-year-old ate broccoli cheese soup, as she does at every opportunity. Only since we were in Vermont (oops—blew my cover), Polly was able to get her favorite crackers.

The Kid, you see, is a raving, lunatic fan of Westminster Oyster Crackers, and the discussion was about the fact that they’re made in the very town we were dining in—Rutland, Vermont. I believe they have no bigger fangirl. Not only does she hoard them in every New England restaurant where she finds the charming little packages, she has also been known to howl (politely) when she dines at a restaurant that is hopelessly out of step with her demanding taste buds. Polly wants a Westminster cracker! She spreads word-of-mouth about this little company wherever, and whenever, her soup-loving soul takes a meal.

The back of the package had an address. My father has a GPS in his car. Did they not know how curious a fangirl can get? Did they not know that grandpas are contractually obligated to indulge the whims of little people?

Even when it involves getting so nervous about walking in to the factory, that she changed her mind four times on the way there.

Grandpa dutifully changed directions, yes folks, four times. He wouldn’t have done that when I was a kid, nosiree. What Polly wants (if she ever figures it out), Polly gets. And Polly wanted to thank some people for making crackers.

But this post is not about making it easy for people to find you.

I let Grandma, who is a bold soul, lead the nervous birthday girl in to the offices. When they were not immediately tossed out, we knew things were going well, and I took pictures of the scene while my father laughed at the whole business.

Westminster Crackers, Rutland, VT

Westminster Crackers’ modest signage. Yah, it was snowing.

The photo below is our haul from the swag the nice ladies in the office gave to my mother and my daughter. Mom’s got the rest.

But this post is not about swag.

Westminster Crackers: Gifts

WOW! The freebies some cute, adoring chicks get!

The people in the office were surprised and thrilled; they had great senses of humor, and they were awesome to The Kid, who said very little but smiled lots.** They treated her well, very much enjoyed hearing from a fan, and gave her a bit of literature indicating that they get a lot of fan mail, though (we like to think) this may have been their first legitimate in-person stalking.

But this post is not about treating your customers wonderfully when they come in to rave, nor about remembering to treat little people with genuine respect, and never talk down to them.

This post is about the crackers.

Make something wonderful. These are not an incremental improvement, folks, or else neither The Kid nor I would remember them. These change the game. Make the meal. Beg you to use them wisely on your broccoli-cheese, so you can savor a few on the way home.

(And it doesn’t even involve chocolate!)

Create something remarkable. Don’t make the most, don’t blanket the country, don’t try to be everything to everyone, and commit hari-kari before you allow a mediocre product or service to walk out your door. You don’t have to be expensive to be a hidden gem.

You’re running a small business. Revel in your smallness. Be exquisite. Be sought after. Be hard to find.

Engineer delight.

From the tiny package, enjoyed dozens of times over the years (but never enough), to the grin on a kid’s face after meeting her cracker-heroes, Westminster knows Maximum Customer Experience.

Polly wants to spread the word about you—How can you make something so unique, so game-changing, so wonderful that it’s easy to become a raving fan?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


*NOT her real name. No disrespect meant to all of my readers who are, in fact, named Polly.

**She’s shy, so she didn’t say much then. Later, as we rounded the last turn toward Grandma and Grandpa’s motel, she exclaimed loudly, “Oh, the Glory of Life!”

Her grin could’ve lit Manhattan for a week. Then the adults in the car laughed so hard that Grandpa almost ran us off the road.

You can’t make this stuff up.