HURON, Ohio — If customer service is a lost art, the staff at a beloved convenience store in Huron is trying to bring about the renaissance. For one employee in particular, his candor and friendliness warranted special recognition from one of the store’s most loyal customers and, in the process, helped to start a movement.
Nonchalantly nestled into a shopping center off of Cleveland Road West, Huron Market has been a staple of the community for more than a half-century. Originally a full-service grocery store, the market has now transitioned into a convenience store that offers a little of everything with a lot of smiling faces.
“It’s very much a people business and we have a lot of very good people here. Our customers come here to see them,” said owner Sean Resley. “To have those people in here is what makes the store successful.”
That friendly disposition is what people see and hear the moment they walk in. During the night shift, chances are it will be Jarrett Foley that greets you will a "Hello" and a "How are you?" The second part — the question — is such a small yet important distinction, Foley said.
“It’s an inquiry and I feel like people appreciate that a little more than a wave of the hand and a ‘Hello, welcome to the store,’” Foley said.
Foley, 22, started at Huron Market a little over two years ago. Initially hired as a cashier and night stocker, it didn’t take him long to quickly catch on and endear himself to some of the store’s most loyal customers.
“You’ve got to have a smile. You have to perpetuate positivity, especially in any job,” Foley said. “It makes you happy at the end of the day and it makes the person you ring up happy, I hope.”
Two weeks ago, Foley’s friendliness prompted one of the store’s most regular customers, Kelly Gerhardstein, to show her gratuity. After she paid, she handed Foley a $1 bill. He refused to accept it. She insisted.
“I said, ‘no, you don’t have to. It’s probably better spent elsewhere,’” Foley said. “She was very insistent and she kind of joked with me about having it framed and having it put up somewhere.”
Although Gerhardstein may have been joking, Foley was not. Sure, one dollar may not go as far as it once did, but it’s what that one dollar represented that mattered most to Foley. And he wanted to remember it.
A few days later, Gerhardstein returned to Huron Market and Foley made sure to show her the decorated frame showcasing the $1 bill that she had tipped him.
“It was the act of kindness that I kind of wanted to immortalize. It’s a way of saying thank you. It is just a dollar but it’s not one that you had to give to me,” Foley said.
Gerhardstein eventually detailed the exchange she had with Foley and put it into a post in a community Facebook group. Inspired by it, other regulars began coming to the Huron Market and leaving Foley with tips of their own.
“It just makes my heart raise up a few inches,” Foley said. “I didn’t think I’d ever receive something like that. It makes going home at the end of every day and showing up to work just so much more amazing.”
Resley, the store owner, said he wasn’t surprised to see Foley the beneficiary of an act of kindness. Instead, Resley said Foley, like his other employees, absolutely deserves it.
“He’s just a good guy. I’m very glad it happened to him. There are positives and negatives in every job. To have that kind of positive happen, it speaks volumes,” Resley said. “You can see what makes the store a great place.”