The other day I stopped by Ike’s Lair for lunch. Someone recommend it and figured I’d give it a go. I’m pretty picky since Oakland has some great food, so I entered the shop with skepticism.

It’s a cute place…they have bright colors, retro lunchboxes on the wall, and the sandwiches have clever names like “Spiffy Tiffy”.

I ordered my sandwich (actually, they were out of the first one I requested) and then waited. A while. It was 2, but somehow it was packed.

Finally, they called my name and I went to pick up my sandwich. The cashier smiled, bagged my sandwich, and put in a lollipop. “Have a great day!”

These were the lollipops I grew up with – the sour apple-flavored ones covered in caramel. The ones I coveted as a kid. (They also had a box of more old-fashioned pops…maybe they give these to baby boomers?)

I don’t really eat lollipops these days, and if I wanted to I could go to the corner store and buy one for 35 cents.

But that little act, that 35c cost, brought me happiness. Why? Because I got a prize. I got a bonus. I got a nice gesture, where normally I get a bunch of plastic utensils I don’t need.

You know what? I don’t entirely remember how good the sandwich tasted. It was pretty good. And the lollipop wasn’t really all that tasty. What I do remember is how I was treated. I’ll be back to try more of their sandwiches.

Sometimes, delighting your customers can be cheap and easy. How can you spend 35c to create a return customer?