Meet the Magic Beans team: Ben Sung, Manager of Magic Beans Wellesley
Shopping at your average chain store can feel so impersonal – it’s huge, there’s constant staff turnover, and with an identical shop in every town, your experience never feels special.
Not only is Magic Beans a smaller business, but getting to know our customers is built into our business model: when you’re filling out the registry for your first baby, or buying your first stroller, you need customer service that respects your individuality and caters to your individual needs. Our team of Baby Registry Concierges, Stroller Matchmakers, and Toy Whizzes are trained to match products to your unique needs and your unique lifestyle – because baby gear just isn’t one-size-fits-all!
And of course, just as all of our customers are individuals, so are our brilliant staff members. This series of blogs is here to introduce you to the kaleidoscope of personalities that makes Magic Beans an extraordinary baby store, and one we hope you’ll return to again and again!
Q: Tell me a bit about what you do at Magic Beans.
I am the store manager of Magic Beans Wellesley. I am responsible for training, maintaining our high customer service standards, and making sure every customer is helped.
Since I’ve been part of the team at Magic Beans for over 6 years, I am asked my perspective by many different areas of the company, including the blog, operations, and buying. As the most senior store manager, I am consulted often by the other store managers for advice, clarification, or anything else they need.
Q: Tell me a bit about how you got started at Magic Beans, and your trajectory up through the company.
My tale is an interesting one – I started my Magic Beans career all the way back in high school! The Wellesley store needed a guy to move all the heavy stroller and car seat boxes, so I was basically a stock boy for a while. That got boring, so I started reading boxes and learning about baby products that way.
When I went away for school, Magic Beans let me stay on seasonally so that when I was done with school, I could easily transition to a full-time employee. I was the top salesman in the company for a couple months until they decided to make me Assistant Manager. For 6 months, I learned the ropes of management until there was more reshuffling, and I became the manager of Magic Beans Wellesley!
Q: Describe a bit about your training process. What was your favorite part of learning about baby gear and toys?
My training process was different than everyone else’s because I literally taught myself everything! I just had a natural curiosity for it, and was bored with my stocking duties. I would read boxes and try to memorize the specs, and then read the website during my breaks. I would then start to try helping customers, and basically learned through trial and error. My biggest resources for learning were asking customers their feedback and my own curiosity for learning weird things. My favorite part of learning baby gear was assembling all sorts of baby gear, because I like to see how things go together and I think it is the best way to learn about a product.
Q: What do you think makes your Magic Beans store extra-special?
The Wellesley store is especially huge, but that’s only the beginning: we are the MASTERS of customer service. My motto is “we will accommodate the heck out of you.” We have been known to make housecalls to people in order to make sure everything is shipshape.
I also like to call Magic Beans Wellesley a “bar for moms,” because moms come in all the time just to chat with us! We’ve become thoroughly embedded in the Wellesley parenting community, and it’s so great to have a real, organic connection with everyone who shops with us.
Q: One of the many services we offer parents-to-be is their very own Baby Registry concierge. Talk a bit about how you walk expectant parents through the registry process, and what situations you’ll help them navigate.
I always start the process with a whole series of questions so I can get a better picture of what kind of person they are, where they live, what they like to do, etc. This way I can make the recommendations that would fit their needs the best.
The most common thing I hear is, “My friend has XY stroller and said I should get one too.” My response to this is always, “Your friend lives in a different place than you, does different activities, and has a different body than you. When you’re pregnant, everyone will give you their two cents about what worked for them but here at Magic Beans, we try to pair you up with the equipment that will best suit YOUR needs.” After we get through this, we can usually get down to business and start with the nitty gritty details.
Q: Let’s talk about your favorite products: what’s your favorite baby stroller at Magic Beans?
Right now, I’m a huge booster for the Jane Trider. (That’s pronounced “zha-NAY” – they’re a brand from Spain, and they’ve been making strollers for decades, but they’re pretty recent arrivals to the US.) I always endorse well-constructed items because they’ll last longer and need less maintenance. This is also a hardy stroller with great wheels for walking and great suspension for a smooth ride. I’m especially drawn to the red frame because of its striking difference from other strollers. It stands out in a crowd and performs even better than it looks!
Q: What other baby gear do you always recommend to new and expectant parents?
It’s easy to remember the major items like stroller, car seat, diaper pails, and many others, but one off-the-beaten-path item I like to recommend is the ZoLi Nail Trimmer. The reason for this is that babies, when you cut their nails, can fuss and cause you to cut too close. In addition, when a nail is freshly cut, it becomes very sharp, making it likelier that the baby will scratch itself. The Zoli Nail Trimmer is great because it has different grit pads so that as your child grows, you can still use it on their thicker nails. I definitely recommend adding this to a baby registry!
Q: What are your go-to toys to recommend for customers shopping for birthday presents?
Obviously it all depends on the age of the child and what interests them. Some of my favorite toys to recommend are Morphibians (because they are remote-controlled duck boats, basically!), Snap Circuits (for the smart kids), and the Alex Friendship Bracelet Making Kit (because it’s fun to make bracelets for any age).
Q: What toy at our stores would you have been begging for as a little kid?
LEGO Mindstorms sets. Without a doubt. You can turn your LEGOs into a robot by programming it with different modules like touch sensors, light sensors, and all sorts of other cool stuff!
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working for Magic Beans?
My favorite thing about working at Magic Beans is helping that first-time mom through the whole Magic Beans process, and seeing them go from stressed and freaked out to calm and in-control. It’s such a good feeling to know that my knowledge of products helps to make customers more confident in such a tumultuous time in their lives. I also love working with so many people that are intelligent, hard-working, and fun!
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