A Bricks and Mortar Model for Human Business on the Web

Posted on March 29, 2011. Filed under: Human Business, Jazz, Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Today’s musical post is Scrapple from the Apple, a 1950-60’s classic throwback featuring Gene Ammons on tenor sax, Eddie Buster on Hammond B-3 organ, and Gerald Donovan on drums. Read on for the relevance.

Every time I work with a client to establish a human approach to online marketing, my thoughts turn to Sneddon’s in Lambertville, N.J., across the Delaware River from New Hope, Penna. Sneddon's Sign Courtesy of Yelp

This wonderful, family-owned business is in its third generation of Sneddon ownership. Earlier it was known as Mutzie’s – a childhood hang of chef Gabrielle Hamilton whose book Blood, Bones and Butter at this moment tops the NY Times and Amazon best-seller’s list.

Walk into Sneddon’s and you’ve time travelled back to a 1950’s luncheonette with booths along one perimeter, formica-topped tables down the middle and a long counter on the other side with swivel stools facing the griddles and food prep surfaces. Inside Sneddon's with favorite waitress Terry
This picture of the interior of Sneddon’s courtesy of UrbanSpoon.com includes our favorite waitress Terry standing at the counter.

Sneddon’s is a community of locals, sophisticated, part-time/weekend residents from New York and day tripper tourists – all of whom are attracted by the friendly, unpretentious atmosphere of the place.

It delivers what its community values – simple, high quality food prepared with pride, reasonable prices, and a staff – from dishwashers, to cooks, to waitresses, to owners — that embraces the customers, remembers them by name, stops by their tables to chat and exchange updates on family, news, the weather and how their experience at Sneddon’s is going that day. I’m always confident that my eggs over easy and well-done Philly scrapple – a local breakfast meat – will come out prepared as ordered.

My mother has been lunching there almost daily for years, first with my stepfather and mentor John Walsh who died several years ago. The Sneddon’s folk have lived through my mother’s joys, health problems, community involvement, death of John with care and concern. I know that if she didn’t show up for lunch for more than a day or two they’d call her and if they felt it necessary dispatch someone to her home to be sure she was ok or help her in any way possible.

Since the Sneddon’s have owned it, the business has passed through three generations. Some days, all three generations are there — the current owners working, the previous ones stopping by to say hello or to bring fresh produce that they grow and contribute to the kitchen.

The staff – local and culturally diverse – also has family stopping in for an after-school snack or some other touchpoint with the loved one employed there. The whole environment is relaxed, friendly, no tension – a real pick-me-up regardless of what’s going on in life.

I try really hard to replicate something of the Sneddon’s experience on the websites, Facebook pages and other online communities of every client, regardless of what business they’re in. Sneddon’s is a successful, busy beehive full of hard-working and happy people. Its human spirit is something for other businesses to aspire to.

Please share your human business role models!

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3 Responses to “A Bricks and Mortar Model for Human Business on the Web”

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Having enjoyed the genuinely kind, attentive, warm atmosphere at Sneddon’s, I concur with your refreshing observation.

Your description of this homestyle, throw back, has a heart, from less harried times eatery is spot on and “Scrapple from the Apple” is also a delicious treat for any music lover’s appetite.

Thanks for the goodies Ellie Becker!

What a wonderful and personal post to share. Family-owned businesses are generally successful for only one generation, but this one sounds like they have stayed true to what keeps their customers coming back. Great food, great atomosphere and lasting relationships with their customers. How do you make a website as enchanting as Sneddon’s?

good post and reminder, Ellie. Every business needs to tell it’s unique story, show its human side, and connect with real people.

Know Like and Trust are human emotions, resulting from those connections. As Chris Brogan says, be a damn human!


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