thoughts, theories, observations & informationSubscribe Now

5 Things I Love About Dorothy Lane Market

I spend far too little time telling people about businesses that I love – too often opting to only complain about those that disappoint me.  So let me begin to remedy this by telling you about a business that I love – Dorothy Lane Market.  This small grocery retailer specializes in premium food items and exceptional customer service.  Shopping there is a wonderful experience. While my family does not get all of our groceries at DLM – opting to pick up more standard fare at Target or Cub Foods – it is a place we frequent with pleasure.   Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Customer Service – The customer is King, Queen, Czar, and Emperor at DLM.  Every employee goes the extra mile and then some to let you know that that truly appreciate your business.  The employees actually seem to enjoy their work, which stands in stark contrast to most grocery stores I visit.  The people there always go the extra mile to make shopping at DLM enjoyable.  Whether it is walking you to the item you are looking for, looking you in the eye and smiling at you, actually knowing something about the specialty products they carry, or offering to help you carry your groceries to the car – DLM’s people are remarkable.  Heck, if you want they will even cook you dinner, which you can eat right upstairs in an open seating area.


  2. Quality – If you are looking for top of the line culinary delights, look no further than DLM.  While it does not have the variety of a Jungle Jim’s (who does?) everything the store carries is sure to be exceptional.  Local produce, exotic cheeses, specialty wines and micro-brews, Killer Brownies, Fresh baked breads, Coleman Beef, freshly made deli items, and on and on… I frequently see shoppers in the parking lot, who appear to be headed to some gathering, emptying out DLM deli containers into their own tupperware in an effort to take credit for preparing something so delicious.


  3. Samples – I don’t know if Seth Godin had this place in mind when he wrote "Free Prize Inside" but it could easily serve as an example the power of giving away something remarkable for free.  Sure most grocery stores have some free samples to give away to shoppers on a Saturday – but New York Strip steak?  Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella?  Andouille Sausage?   You could go to DLM on a Saturday simply to graze.  I assure you that you will not be disappointed, and you won’t leave hungry.  Every aisle seems to have some new delight waiting for you to try, each more delicious than the last.  The hard part is deciding which of the many delicious samples offered to buy because there are just so many. 


  4. Innovation – Yeah they get the people thing right.  Yeah they get the product thing right.  Even more impressive is how the store incorporates technology into what they do.  DLM is always playing around with new ways to better serve the customer.  My favorite example of this is the deli kiosk.  This kiosk is a touch screen that enables you to select various items from the deli, including meats and cheeses and place your order for everything all at once when you walk through the front doors of the store.  It eliminates the need to take a number, stand and wait to be called, order each item one at a time, and then get your stuff minutes later as a crowd of people await the completion of your seemingly endless order.  Nope, with this system you can place the whole order in minutes, shop the store for the other things you need, and then pick up your entire order from a basket placed on a refrigerated shelf at the deli counter.  This is a brilliant use of technology to improve the shopping experience. 


  5. Integrity – This company does it right.  The experience I had the one and only time I returned a food item I was unsatisfied with was so overwhelmingly positive that it only made me love the place more.  There were no questions, no interrogations, and no hassles.  They did not demand anything from me, offering instead a very sincere apology that the product did not meet my expectations.  They actually said they were sorry to me – can you believe it?  I was blown away.  Then, they offered me my money back, which of course I immediately spent right there in the store – and have done so many times since. 

Dorothy Lane Market is a great example of premium service done right.  When it comes to word of mouth marketing, they take it to a whole new level.  Foodie or not, you could learn a lot from observing how they operate their business.  I encourage you to visit them, enjoy a killer brownie and a cup of Boston Stoker coffee, and observe masterful, customer centric marketing first hand.   Boy am I hungry.