Relatives who shall remain anonymous visited the much talked about Gizmos & Gadgets Superstore on Monday and reported that they were underwhelmed. They were not pleased that some prices were quoted in US dollars – a not uncommon practice in Guyana particularly for jewellery stores; and that the variety in Glamour – the new boutique – in the Superstore was inadequate.
I visited the store on Tuesday evening and had a different experience. A much different overall experience.
The design and aesthetic appeal of the store is impressive. There is no other adjective to be used, impressive it was.
There was no effort to maximise the placement of merchandise a la Regent Street haberdashery stores. Moving from their elbow-nudging, hole-in-the-wall operation at the corner of Robb and Wellington streets to the corner of North Road and Wellington Street the general layout of the store is thoughtful, spacious and considerate. The layout has customer comfort both at the heart and forefront. It is a very un-Guyanese set up which matches or surpasses other Caribbean stores and it is obvious that it was patterned after first world stores.
The owners of Gizmos & Gadgets have raised the bar in the retail shopping industry in Guyana in terms of all round customer experience. To state the case simply: they have now lapped the competition in this regard.
The young owners of the store have clearly insisted on a better customer shopping experience and fo that they must be complimented.
I am not one who usually doles out compliments and kudos but I was moved to congratulate both owners.
It is not all great and grand though.
The finish on some of the obviously locally made showcases (in Glamour) and the cashier booth falls below par. It is clear that the designs were clever but it would appear as though the owners of the store either chose substandard builders or had to contend with the shortcomings of local builders in delivering a high class, neat and perfect finish. They need to either find the best local builder in Guyana and do some upgrades in those two areas or import the skills. I believe it is the former, not the latter.
Otherwise Glamour puts the shopping experience in the other so called high-end but always crammed-to-the-hilt, messy and cluttered boutiques in Georgetown to utter shame.
The options, to be honest, are not extensive but that can be dramatically improved with the arrival of new stock (which I was told will be soon in coming).
I have previously had reason to harshly criticize Gizmos for poor customer service. This has been rectified. In all departments the sales people were obviously better trained than before, courteous, friendly and knowledgeable. This may be standard in the real-world but a sad rarity in Guyana.
Such was my experience that when I enquired about the availability of a certain item and was told that regrettably there was none in stock, I was told there would be new stock coming in soon. I asked when I could check back and was told checking back would not be necessary. I was asked to leave my number and I would receive a call to confirm if the item I was interested in is available.
A Guyanese store is going to follow up by calling me to provide additional information? This I have got to see!
Overall the prices did not seem to be very competitive in most of the departments but there are several deals to be had for the persevering shopper. And there are some departments which offer unmatchable prices – the cell phone and audio-visual departments being the most notable. In Glamour there are numerous items which cannot be had for cheaper in Georgetown and that the owners are willing to match first world advertised prices is a masterstroke.
I must confess that after observing the media coverage I was sceptical that it was all PR fluff and that the store would not live up to the hype. It did not live up to the hype, it exceeded it, even if there is room for improvement.
Down to their Christmas tree – which was not cheesy and classless (like the one at Rahaman’s Park) but rather tasteful and striking – Gizmos got it right.
A fantastic job – the owners deserve all credit and kudos they receive. It is a clear triumph for young entrepreneurs in Guyana who are increasingly demonstrating that they will not do things as they have always been done before. They are showing an inclination to lead, not follow. They are breaking the mould and bringing an improved customer experience to our shores.
It is refreshing and I will support as best as I can within the confines of my budget.
To conclude I can say unequivocally that I am a happy customer. And that comes from someone who is admittedly highly critical and discriminating and who vowed not to shop at Gizmos again after a previous experience of poor customer service (which I am beginning to realise was because they were inadequately staffed or in too small a space previously).
Shopping at Gizmos was a pleasant experience, one which I hope to repeat in the not-too-distant future.
Gwaan Gizmos! Yuh ah lead!