Bond, James Bond

June 12, 2015

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Disclosure:  Neither of these business owners
know that I am writing about them.
I’m not getting any free stuff in exchange for this article!  

“Customers may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. “

You’re not looking for it, you can’t define it, but you know it when you receive it – service that leaves you feeling like you’re a special customer.  Since our inception 5 years ago, we have worked hard to give our guests exemplary customer service, and I know from the many comments I hear
from you as I meet you in the market or around town, that our hard-working team is doing an excellent job
of making youfeel welcome as you enter our doors.  I’m constantly on the lookout to learn from other
businesses that offer that kind of service, and while I can list off many places in Abbotsford that do an
incredible job of providing that, I’d love to acknowledge two small, independently owned, exemplary
places of business in Abbotsford.  Harry Atsma, owner of Cobbler’s Corner on South Fraser Way and
now of retirement age, arrived in Canada from Europe as a 16 year old boy and apprenticed as a
leather repairer (cobbler) in the basement of the building he now leases.  If you’ve been in Abbotsford
as long as I have, you’ll remember when Midway Shoes occupied that space, that mystical place filled with mountains of shoe boxes, owned and operated by a brother and sister team.  ALL of my childhood shoes

came from there, as did most of my children’s shoes when it moved to the building on South Fraser Way,
now housing Ronald Allen Clothiers (another long-standing Abbotsford business that provides outstanding customer service, but I digress!)  Mr. Atsma is what you’d call old-school, proud of his workmanship and
of the mindset that almost anything can be fixed, rather than discarded.  Hockey gloves, leather belts,
shoes, purses, travel bags, suitcases, and lately even some of our LFM jacket zippers have been
fixed by him; no job is too small or inconvenient.  So next time, before you toss something out, think
of bringing it to Mr. Atsma for his magic touch!  The morning of our daughter’s wedding, proud dad Rob
brought his black shoes to him to be polished for his special walk down the aisle, and with a
big smile, Mr. Atsma handed him back his now glossy shoes and said “no charge for such a special
occasion”.  Recently I asked him when he was going to retire, and he quickly replied,
“why would I quit doing something that I love?”
Now that’s inspirational!  

Speaking of weddings, walking into Expert Dry Cleaning on Sumas Way is like walking into a cave of
stalactite wedding dresses, icicles of ivory and white chiffon hanging from the ceiling.  This always-smiling
South Korean gentleman arrived in Canada 16 years ago and is so appreciative of the wonderful country
that has welcomed him and his family.  He expertly cleans and beautifully boxes wedding dresses,  a
laborious task for him that becomes a priceless keepsake for the bride.  I don’t know of many places I
frequent that leave me feeling like I’m the most important customer of the day, but he achieves that each
time  as he humbly bows, and with both hands presents me with my golden dry-cleaning ticket.  Willy Wonka never received such a presentation of his golden ticket.  I once told him that it was unfair that he knew my name,  but I didn’t know his.  With a mischievous twinkle and a response I never saw coming, he said “you can call me James, James Bond”  So now James Bond and I discuss the weather, his two
daughters and our market as he efficiently processes my dry-cleaning.

These business, along with many others just like them, are the backbone of our community and deserve
our support. I can’t begin to tell you how meaningful it is to hear
 “I appreciate your excellent service” from a guest, so I want to encourage you,
as you go about your day and your busy lives, to take a moment to thank someone who has made
you feel special and gone above and beyond.
I can guarantee you that it will put a smile on their face and a spring in their step
that will last all day!