I ran across this term recently in another blog, and it stuck with me. It’s a succinct way of describing those moments when tightness triumphs over the impulse to be generous.

I had a Generosity Fail yesterday at the Orleans Farmers Market. A pleasant silver-haired guy stopped by my table to tell me he’d bought a lot of bars last season and given them to his family members as stocking stuffers. They were a big hit.

“That’s great to hear! Have you tried the soap yourself?”

He admitted he hadn’t.

“Well you should try it! Look, these seconds are just $2 and $3.”

At that moment my attention was drawn away by another customer at the table, and when I turned back, he had moved on.

Dope! I thought. Why didn’t you just pop a nice bar in a glassine bag and hand it to him? “Here….try it! It’s a gift.” Not because it was good marketing, which of course it was, but because it’s nice to give things away. The freedom to give people stuff is one of the perks of being the business owner. I also encourage my employees to err on the side of generosity when dealing with customers. Giving things away frees up energy. It’s fun.

In that instance, it wasn’t exactly a case of stinginess triumphing over generosity since I didn’t care at all about making an extra $2, but of simple inattentiveness to the opportunity of the moment.

Oh well. Generosity Fail. Better luck next time.