“I CAN *ALWAYS* USE A NEW FRIEND!” JULIE BAKER LEADEN SHARES HER #MEXICALIMOMENT
Everyone at Mexicali Blues has a #MexicaliMoment—a time they realized what Mexicali was all about and they found their place in the Mexicali Tribe. Bangor store manager Julie Baker Leaden shares hers below.
“The downtown Bangor location is the Mexicali Blues store that is the furthest north,” Julie Baker Leaden, manager of Mexicali Blues Bangor, points out. “Our customers come from places like the Canadian Provinces and the County, and they aren’t familiar with our brand. Everyone walks in expecting to find a Mexican restaurant. My job is to convince them to stay!”
Julie’s solution to this challenge has become her superpower: a welcome so warm and authentic it’s like a tractor beam. “I immediately offer to give them a personal tour,” she explains. “We don’t have tortillas or tacos, but we do have all these incredible, colorful, magical clothes and accessories. And I get to talk to people and start to get to know them. Even if they continue looking for a place to have lunch, they always promise to come back—and they do.”
Yes, they come back. And, more often than not, they become friends. Not just friendly—names exchanged and remembered, a wave when passing by on the street—but hang-out-on-the-weekend friends. Julie has managed other retail stores in Portland and in Bangor since graduating from the University of Southern Maine, but she’s never seen anything quite like the effect Mexicali Blues has on people.
“It’s like a family here,” she explains. “Our retention rate is amazing, especially for retail, and I’m so proud of that. Our staff is small and close-knit and young we all get along. I mother my kids at home and I get to do some mothering here, too. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We go to concerts and local events together, I’ve been invited to their weddings … and I know that customers walking in can immediately feel that warmth, that love, that ‘tribe vibe.’”
Julie credits the store’s location for its sociability as well. “In my previous managerial positions, I managed stores that weren’t part of a shopping district. Working in this historic downtown alongside so many other businesses made me feel like I needed to get to know my neighbors,” she explains. “We’re all trying to support Bangor’s economy. I’m part of the Downtown Bangor Partnership working to ensure the success of the downtown business community, and I serve on its Marketing and Networking committees to help push everyone along.”
Julie remembers a particularly busy Black Friday when a customer walked in who had just moved to Bangor. She asked for a local restaurant recommendation nearby. Despite the crush of customers in the store, Julie took a moment to step outside to point her in the right direction. Sensing her apprehension and loneliness, Julie impulsively asked her if she wanted to meet up later for a drink sometime. A week later, the customer called the store and asked her if she had meant it.
“Of course I meant it!” Julie laughs. “She needed a friend in her new town, and I can always use a new friend. We made plans to meet after I got off work. And here is the best part: Pete Erskine, my boss, happened to be visiting our store that day, and he asked if he could come along with us!”
This is Julie’s #MexicaliMoment: the moment she realized that she wasn’t the only one forging meaningful, durable connections with customers. “I surveyed my staff,” she marvels. “Every single one of them is friends with—or in a relationship with—someone they met inside this store. Our store family has created an extended family in the Bangor community.”
The post “I CAN *ALWAYS* USE A NEW FRIEND!” JULIE BAKER LEADEN SHARES HER #MEXICALIMOMENT appeared first on Mexicali Blues Blog.