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I am the President of my condominium corporation and have been sending out feelers to try and get some discounts for residents via our quarterly Newsletter. I have received a few interested stores and a few polite "thanks, but no thanks" replies. What I received from the Leslieville Cheese Market was absolutely astounding.

My e-mail:
"Good morning,

I am the President of YCC442 a.k.a. Marigold Gardens. We are a 93 Townhouse complex on the corner of Queen and Leslie (right behind the Duke).

I am trying to work with local Leslieville stores to create a membership card or discount coupon system to encourage our 93 home owners to support their local economy and buy in Leslieville.

Would your cheese market be interested in providing our residents with a discount coupon? We produce a quarterly newsletter to residents and would be happy to include an add for your store.

Please let me know your thoughts at your convenience,

Best wishes,"

THE RESPONSE:

"I'm sorry,

while i think it's a good idea, i'm sure that no amount of discount will bring those people to my store to buy cheese my cheddars run between double the price to four times the price of loblaws no name cheddar.

so for the cheapest they would have to get 50% off to make it the same regular price as no name cheddar."

"THOSE PEOPLE"

For the record, "those people" are 93 townhouses at Queen and Leslie. We have a mix of income levels and professions (just like the rest of Leslieville which contributes to our unique community and character). We have a retired CIBC executive and current Professor at UofT, account managers, product managers, directors, IT professionals, administrators, film industry professionals and artisans. Our condominium is the most affordable entry into Leslieville as our units hover just under the $3000,000 price point due in part to our brady bunch set exterior. We are a hidden gem as we have an internal courtyard which is nearly a full City block and an underground parking lot.

But apparently Leslieville Cheese Market thinks we are not cheddar worthy. I have no problem with not being able to discuss a discount for my residents. I do have a BIG problem with having my residents referred to as "those people" and the assumptions that no name cheddar is all we are interested in.

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Replies to This Discussion

Yikes... sometimes small business owners/managers still astound me with their lack of market knowledge and relationship-building skills. It's certainly ok to say no, but those reasons seem to be based on some pretty big assumptions.
Thanks for posting this!

I'm one of 'those people' at Marigold Gardens, and have shopped at Leslieville Cheese Market in the past. Needless to say, they've lost my platter order this Christmas. A shame, I guess I'll be making the trek to St. Lawrence or Kensington markets, where the mongers are attentive, friendly, and non-judgemental.
Ally- just out of curiosity, was that the entire response or an excerpt? It would be pretty difficult to take those comments out of context, but I just thought I'd ask if there was any more to the response they sent you.
This seems ridiculously unbelievable!!
I sent two replies to Allegra at 12:40 today. Unfortunately she posted on the Leslieviller at 12:34. I have not received a response from her, so I don't know if my responses would have changed her decision to post here.

By the way, I buy Loblaws no name cheddar. People who frequent our shop will know that we don't have a hint of pretentiousness.

Michael
owner, Leslieville Cheese
___________________

Allegra,

I am very sorry. When I said 'those people', i simply meant the group of people living at a certain address. Quite simply, I had it in my head, 'those people across from Loblaws'. I have no idea who they are otherwise.

It seems from your very sensitive response that you might have trouble with misrepresentation. I can truly say that due to the circumstances of my own childhood and upbringing, I have no desire to add to that misrepresentation.

I considered simply deleting your original email, but thought it would be more respectful to reply. It saddens me, but unfortunately I seem to have made a mistake. I actually considered your offer, and made a decision based on my business. I hope that you send a similar email to people who offer you the lack of respect that comes with giving you no response at all.

In fairness, I ask that you forward this email to anyone who you might have sent your previous email to.

Once again I am very sorry for any trouble that I have caused.

Michael
owner, Leslieville Cheese Market
___________________

A few minutes later....

Allegra,

I have reread your emails. I am absolutely not the person you depict in your email.

You have no idea how sad this makes me.

I wish that after 'reading between the lines' you had contacted me directly instead of mass emailing people.

Michael
___________________

In addition to my responses to her, I suppose I could expand upon the business rationale that I have followed since my business opened. In the population study that I had written on the neighborhood, I discounted any residents who are a certain minimum radius from very large retailers. Examples of those are Loblaws, St. Lawrence, and many retailers on Danforth. It's qutie simply too easy for these people to walk a block or two, and therefore have never been a part of my marketing efforts.

Michael
Entire e-mail except for the signature line, didn"t want to name individual names. No edits on my part, as unbelievable as that sounds!
I sent about 50 e-mails requesting discounts for residents and expected about a 3% response rate and about a 1% success rate. I don't believe an e-mail to individuals who have chosen not to respond to me is appropriate. I responded to yours as I found the way you delivered your no was rather dismissive to my complex. Many local restaurants and stores have said a discount would make no sense and wished me luck in my endeavour. Your e-mail had a tone I felt I was obligated to respond to as an opportunity to alert your business to a missed market and to alert my neighbours to my experience.

There were a thousand different ways you could have declined, including deleting the e-mail, you chose to send the e-mail posted above.
This all seems a little petty. I've never been disappointed with the products or service I've had from the cheese shop. Surely this is all some kind of misunderstanding...
Allegra

I am sorry that you found my tone dismissive, that was never my wish.

It also concerns me that given I had no ill-intention whatsoever towards any neighbourhood I found your response aggressive and ill-matched.

I hope that we can avoid future miscommunication.

Michael
I have shared my personal experience. People will interpret the e-mail and make their own choices and decisions. I have made no call to action, nor will I. I consider this matter closed.
Hmm. Clearly, it would be wise for CheeseMan to use a more diplomatic approach in future, even when he believes he is communicating one-on-one with someone. In the days of social media, that is an assumption that shouldn't be made.

Regrettably sometimes, the best approach may be to 'grin f#&k' people instead of offering up a glimpse into reality. Whether they admit it of not, every business that stays in business focuses their limited sales, and marketing efforts toward specific, identifiable groups of consumers. Household income, geography and other factors are very relevant decision points. By the complainant's own admission, her constituents' complex is the "most affordable entry point" in Leslieville and it is also 2 minutes away from a discount retailer of strikingly similar products. Maybe, on balance (which means as a whole, not based on specific individuals), they're not a good fit for this particular business to focus on. That is nothing for either party to be ashamed of.

Controversy aside, I applaud AllyMacD's efforts. The idea of forging stronger bonds with the local community is an extremely worthwhile endeavor and an interesting idea to explore from a broader community-wide perspective. I hope she is very successful (and that my condo undertakes a similar effort.) Since I've moved here, I've made a genuine effort to buy from the neighborhood's exceptional small businesses whenever possible, and I feel good about the sources I have to draw upon. I don't go there regularly, but on occasion, I have absolutely picked up some cheeses for a dinner party or enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich from the Leslieville Cheese Market. My experience with them has always been exceptional (I can likely get the same stuff at the St. Lawrence Market, IMHO but I like the people I've dealt with and they're part of our community (though I still don't get how you can have a Leslieville Cheese Market outside of Leslieville.)

I think this was a somewhat overdone reaction to a somewhat less than diplomatic correspondence. I hope everyone is able to move on with great haste.

Best regards,

C
Michael...you messed up...with your wording...no doubt....reread your emails before hitting send...

Ally....you called him a nazi.....Ally...you called him a NAZI....A NAZI IN BIG TYPE IN THE HEADLINE!!!!!...you called him someone who wants to KILL PEOPLE different than himself.....????

Ally....you owe him an apology....you're way out of line.....and quite honestly he's not the one who sounds like a nazi....

You know, I just considered referring to you as a word that starts with a B...but I feel bad about it...i have this feeling in my stomach, ingrained since childhhood....i feel like i might even get into trouble here....this comment might be removed from this site.....and seriously, i have to tell you what i'm feeling...i'm feeling SOCIAL BOUNDARIES where i ACTUALLY START TO FEEL BAD when i start to call someone a bad name.....and what i had the urge to call you is NOT EVEN CLOSE TO as bad as NAZI.....

Ally...maybe you should just go look into the mirror for a while....

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