All posts by Nancy

About Nancy

Entrepreneur, Writer, Gardener, Lover of Rural Life

Photo Credit Above: By Sgt. Karla Elliott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today is the first class. So far it is just me, Cathy, and Irati. We are planning to do this every

Acro Flash Mob

By Earl McGehee (own work) {CCBY-SA 3.0( / licenses / by-sa/3.01 }, Via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, so if you live in and around Soap Lake or Ephrata and want to join up, let me know via the comments section. Right now, we are doing it at my house, and space is limited. If there is a lot of interest, we can move outdoors in a few weeks.


Why Exercise Groups Work

Even if you enjoy working out and getting exercise, joining a class or group workout can help add structure and commitment to your routine. When life gets busy, often the first thing we cut back on is going to the club, or making time for exercise in general. When you have joined a group or class, you know people are counting on you to be there and and be a part of the support system.

Fitness Group Focus

The focus of our particular group is centered on individual capabilities and fitness goals.For example, one person might want to focus on balance and core strength, while another focuses on aerobic improvement, or flexibility.

By selecting fitness workouts that are easily modified to suit each person, we think we will experience the greatest benefit.

General Health and Wellness

Increasing strength, flexibility, and aerobic stamina even just a little can reap great health rewards, such as the reduction in daily stress levels. Being able to move freely to do daily activities such as bringing in the groceries and chasing after the kids, and even just getting in and out of the car brightens your outlook on everything. Being able to move around with a feeling of muscle control, strength, balance, and increased energy levels helps you to get things accomplished in a timely manner, which also reduces stress.

Why not live well and in wellness today. Breathe deeply, get some fresh air and sunshine, eat some healthy food, and enjoy life more than ever before.

Soap Lake WA School On Lockdown

Author’s Note: 1:43 p.m. The kids have now been cleared to go back to class and will be released at normal time.

This morning, from what I understand, there was a bomb threat at the Soap Lake High School. The kids are in lock down but, have been removed from the area affected at the time of this writing. We are told they are safe and being fed lunch while law enforcement checks the school for threats or explosives.

While this is something I would never want my child to experience, I have to say I am impressed with the handling of the situation by school officials in keeping our kids safe.

Parents: This is a good time to make sure your contact information is up to date. How scary to think your child could be evacuated and the school couldn’t contact you.

Be sure to allow some extra time to talk with your kids about this. It will ease the post traumatic stress they will encounter in the aftermath.

Thank you, first responders, for working to keep our kids safe.

John’s Thrift, Soap Lake, WA

Local Grocery Store Has Heart and Soul

Soap Lake, WA
By Nancy Owens, Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved
Photo by Nancy Owens All rights reserved

In small towns like Soap Lake, WA, the local grocery store, such as John’s Thrift, is often an important community element. The grocery store is the place where friends and neighbors catch up on what is going on. The bulletin board on the outside of the the building by the front doors contains announcements of upcoming events and local advertisements. To put your notice up all you have to do is stop at the deli counter with a copy of your notice. If it is approved, they will put it up for you.

Inside John’s, you can shop in peace. You can stand and look at the items in the isles without someone continually asking you to move. When I go to Walmart, it seems like it is impossible to stand still and look at something without somebody saying, “Excuse me,” which is code for, “Move!”

I also like that John’s has a pretty good selection of healthy beverages, and most all the staples for living.

In addition to all they offer, the staff is friendly and actually recognizes you when you come in the door. How nice, after a hard day’s work, to walk into the local grocery store and have someone greet you with a big smile.

My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone that makes John’s Thrift so special.

Ephrata Walmart Trouble Shooting On Target For Customer Satisfaction

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nancy Owens, Practical Solution Home and Business Services

WalMart Gift Cards

At Christmastime I stuffed my father’s stocking with a $25 dollar gift card. About three weeks ago, he gave it back to me telling me it didn’t work. I immediately called the number on the back of the card, to no avail. The automated system told me to take the card to Walmart and have it activated. I put it in my purse with the intent of doing just that on my next trip to Ephrata.

So yesterday, I was in Walmart to get a new bath mat and some storage items for the

Bath Matt In Packaging

The bath mat I bought that day at Walmart. Reasonable Price, Cute, and Functional! Photo Credit: Nancy Owens

contents of my bathroom while it is getting torn apart and remodeled.  At the checkout-stand I remembered my father’s gift card and asked the cashier about getting it fixed so he could use it.

I am sorry that I did not get her name, but she tried in her system and found it could not be activated, but that it should have been automatically activated at the time of purchase. Of course, she asked for a receipt, which I did not have, given that I had bought it as a gift. And of course, the cashier’s hands were tied because I had no receipt. I told her I was very concerned, because I paid $25 for the card and now I felt I was in a situation that would force me to just kiss that $25 away, as if it never happened.

So there I was. One unhappy camper. It wasn’t the cashier’s fault. It was one of those days when I was short on time, and becoming irritated at the situation. In my mind, I wasn’t going to give up and lose my money without digging further. It was then that this steadfast employee called in a manager to see if something more could be done. It was a short wait and Marisee, Customer Service Manager for Ephrata Walmart, was at the check-stand. She basically told me the same thing as the cashier: no receipt, nothing we can do.

It was at that point I realized that they probably have a lot of scammers and thieves who try to pull stuff, like steal a card and then try to get them to put money on it. I figured they were just doing their jobs to protect their store. But, like Tucker, The Abandoned Puppy who is growing up to be one very tenacious puppy, I was not going to let go of the bone.

Trouble Shooting In Customer Service

Marisee invited me to come over to the customer service station for further discussion. At

Bath Matt Martha Stewart Mainstay Blue

Old Tub Looks Better With Cute Bath Mat. It has lots of suction cups so seems pretty safe. The tub will come out after the other bathroom gets redone. Photo Credit: Nancy Owens

the counter, she again tried to get the card to activate, but it was not working. I was getting ants in my pants because I needed to leave, but still wanted to figure out where my money went. I know that in today’s world $25 isn’t much, and the aggravation of solving the mystery was probably costing me more than $25 in terms of time and frustration, so I told Marisee that maybe I needed to just write to corporate about the situation or something. She asked why, and I told her, “Because I want my $25!” Then, I had an idea, LOL! I paid for it with a debit card and figured they could search their system that way, but it didn’t seem like my idea was clicking with Marisee, who was quickly running through their system, and I told her I couldn’t hang around much longer. It wasn’t her fault, either, just to be clear. It was just one of those weird things that happen sometimes. Anyway, she said something I couldn’t quite hear and then walked away to another computer and I thought that she had deserted me and so I started to head out and just get on with my day.

However, just before I cleared the customer service area, she called out to me, and I went over to where she was. The part I couldn’t hear was probably her asking me to come with her to the other station, I’m sure. Anyway, it was then that I came to understand Marisee’s dilemma: She could only search using my card number one day at a time, and unless I had the exact day I purchased it, her time constraints would not allow her to search day by day. I could come up with a date range, but again, without the receipt (Lesson Learned, Everybody! :)), or checking my card transaction history, it looked like we were out of luck.

Teaching, Sharing, Training

Enter Lashonda, The Zone Manager for the store. Marisee had to good instincts to call her in for a consult on the situation. And Lashonda really saved the day by sharing her system expertise with Marisee in using the search system, so that helped. Still, I could tell it was going to take a long time. I took down their information and phone number, and gave Lashonda my info and left the store thinking that maybe I could pinpoint the transaction by going through my card transactions. Then next day I could call her with the info.

I went and did my errands, got home, got distracted and didn’t make the transaction search.

Follow Through, Follow Up, and Going the Extra Mile

And then it happened. That Holy Grail of Customer Satisfaction. A few minutes before 5 p.m., Lashonda left me a very nice voice mail message telling me that she had searched every day in the month of December and could not locate the transaction, but that if I come into the store they will make it right with me. Her tone of voice and communication style suggested to me that she truly cared about my situation. She had spent extra time searching the system just for me. Lashonda’s insights, actions, as well as Marisee’s ability to continue being nice to me during the time we spent together in the store worked together to restore my faith in Walmart’s customer service.

I know a lot of people who have been disappointed in general with Walmart in this area, and not just here in Washington State, but Billings and Helena Montana as well. I understand that shoplifting criminals are a lot of what drives many of the issues. I also believe that corporate budgets and the lean and mean business operations that most large corporations have adopted are at the heart of many of the other customer service issues in Walmart stores. When Walmart was new, the prices were so low and you saved so much money by shopping there that not being able to locate a store employee for help out in the department areas was generally overlooked by most shoppers. You just wandered around for a couple hours until you found what you were looking for. Now days, though, Walmart is about the same as Target and other stores price-wise. And people who shop regularly are pressed for time and want to find what they want without spending all that time in the store.

Walmart Working Together With Customers to Improve Satisfaction

Online Surveys and the formal complaint system are well and good, but the real customer relations happen on the floor at the time of service. I spent four years as a customer service supervisor and trouble shooting in a catalog order call center. We had over a hundred accounts and I demonstrated proficiency in all of them. I trained new employees and performed trouble shooting for online orders as this was at a time when Web Commerce was still new to most people.

Yesterday, Marisee and Lashonda did what no Walmart Survey or Customer Complaint System could do. They interacted with me, face-to-face, at the time of service. They shared knowledge and information with each other in order to help me. Both demonstrated great communication skills, and Lashonda was gifted with the ability to clearly explain the obstructions in the situation and also communicate assurance, compassion, and confidence in dealing with the various elements in play. They went the extra mile and came up with a remedy for the situation. Up close and personal even after I had left the store! And Lashonda called me back before her shift ended and let me know how and when I could contact her today!

These three Ephrata, WA Walmart Employees handled a nightmarish customer service situation in a commendable way and I want the unnamed cashier, Marisee, and Lashonda to know how grateful I am for caring about this unusual situation and for not treating me like a criminal.

Bottom line is that this post is not about blaming anyone, but about these dedicated people stepping up for their local customers and store. This has been a lengthy post, folks, but it was a complicated and unusual situation. I learned a very good lesson, which is to save my receipt for those darned cards until I know the gift recipient has been able to successfully use the card!

Thank you for reading this through to the end, everybody.


Nancy Owens,

Practical Solutions Home and Business Services

Blog Administrator, Nancy’s Local Review From Soap Lake, WA

Nancy’s Local Review is an official blog of Practical Solutions Home and Business Services

Moses Lake Home Depot Delivers Customer Satisfaction


Copyright Nancy Owens, All Rights Reserved

Recently, when researching a possible order from Home Depot in Moses Lake, WA to be delivered to my home, I had a conversation with Jerry W., who

oversees delivery scheduling and coordinates with the delivery drivers. I asked Jerry if there was any way they could bring the cabinets into the house so they wouldn’t get wet in the drizzling weather while I found someone to help me get them inside. Without missing a beat, he cheerfully said “Yes! We can do that.”

I have to tell you, I was sort of shocked at how nice he was, and at how willing he was to go the extra mile for me, a customer he didn’t know. His willingness to do this was the reason I made the order. Had he said they could not bring the stuff in, I would have waited, looked around some more, and possibly bought the products from somewhere else. So… Score one for Home Depot right there.

Delivery day brought more smiles and surprises, because Jerry himself personally came to my house and took charge of bringing the cabinets and vanities into the house. Lee, the delivery driver, and I pitched in and in almost no time, everything was inside. During the process, I discovered that the normal practice is to just put the stuff in the driveway, but Jerry W. had made an exception in my case. He said he likes to get out and see the customers where they live when he can, and likes to see the projects they are working on with products they buy from the store where he works.

I asked them if they needed extra fees for the extra work and they wouldn’t take my money.


Photo Credit for these images: Nancy Owens. Seen above are two of the unfinished kitchen base cabinets. All ordering was done online and over the phone. This is a nice product and I was pleasantly surprised and the good construction.

When I asked if there was anything I could do for them, they suggested filling out the survey and that mentioning them by name would be nice. I heartily agreed.

This write-up is frosting on their cake, because I am going to give his boss the link so he can see what one customer wrote about his store and team in her blog.

At this writing, I have only unpacked two of the vanities, but both are in excellent condition, complete with fittings and instructions, so I am happy with the product I received.

In addition to the great delivery experience, I would like to thank Cindy, who helped me on the phone with getting the vanity order completed and delivery set up, as the web site had only the store pick up option in the order screens. Maria did a fair amount of  walking around to find information and people, and then called me back in a timely manner, all the while being so very nice to me. Then, Jerry W. also helped me with the add-on and shipping set-up for the kitchen cabinets that I later added to the order.

Lee, the independent contractor and official operator of the nifty little loader also deserves a special shout out. He could have dropped the stuff in my driveway and let Jerry do the rest, but he so cheerfully pitched in and it made the entire process that much nicer for all. I also liked that he was respectful of my water-logged driveway and didn’t make troughs with the tires of the loader in my ground.

Carlie (I neglected to get the spelling of her name, so I am guessing here) was instrumental in helping me obtain the contact information for Jerry’s boss, Jim, so that I can write a proper e-mail regarding this excellence in customer service.

Thank you ALL for going the extra mile.

See the first article about the ordering process with Moses Lake’s Home Depot Store in another one of my blogs,

Image / Photo Credit: Nancy Owens