"Yes we are -- shopping locally." Local campaign mentioned in the Bulletin.
Hey, what's to argue?
First the good news, and then the not so great news.
I, personally, try to shop locally. But I'm not much of a consumer, so I'm not sure I'm a big help. (Makes me wonder if the same people who are socially conscious enough to shop locally, are also the same people who are socially conscious enough not to over-consume? Hmmmm.....probably not. People love to shop.)
I've always thought of shopping locally as a small local tax. It's relatively painless, that quarter or fifty cents you spent extra to buy aspirin from a local druggist instead of Wal-mart, doesn't seem like it could kill anyone.
When it starts getting to half-price, though, it's pretty hard to argue that one should spend twice as much...
Except, of course, I would maintain that if you got it for half, there is a hidden cost somewhere.
Just talking to my UPS driver about this very thing. He bought a couple of doodad's he needed for his Direct T.V. for 25.00 each from them, after checking around town and finding that they coast 150.00 everywhere else.
"Are you a subscriber to Direct T.V,?" I asked. "How much does it cost per month? See, they want you to buy those doodads so that you'll continue to buy their service and they make x amount per month by having hooked you in."
That's not to say it isn't a good deal, and you would be crazy not to take it. Just that there is always an explanation, always a hidden cost somewhere.
I won't go into the political ramifications of using cheap foreign labor, or paying your American workers as little as possible (benefits? What's that?) Or that the materials going into the 'cheap' stuff may not be quite as good as it should be. Or...well, you could go on and on...
But I always say, if you dig dirt out of one end of the field, it doesn't disappear, but it piles up somewhere else.
Over the last few weeks, I've gotten an extraordinary number of calls and visits from people trying to sell their baseball card collections. I usually just say, No. I usually point them to E-Bay. If they insist, I usually say, "If you find anyone who's buying, let me know...."
End of conversation.
What I don't say is -- how did you expect to be giving your money to the big chain stores for the last 15 years of so, and then expect to come to little old me and get cash?
With what? Where's the money? It isn't in my pocket.
Nothing is for free. You don't get something for nothing. You get what you pay for.
I'd bet that there are a million such examples of hidden costs, disappearing service, shrinking selection, and lousy convenience.
I'd also have to say, that being able to buy more cheaper stuff doesn't necessarily add to your lifestyle. Two pieces of crap instead of one, just means you have twice as much crap.
Imagine if you will a town where everyone bought locally. Instead of Walmart's (smaller) cents on the dollar sticking around, you'd have about 40% of it sticking around. Being spent locally, enriching local merchants, who can refurbish their storefronts, higher more employees or give them bigger paychecks and benefits, who could buy more and different product, maybe even eventually lowering their prices because of their volume.
So here's the not so great news. Such a thing happening is extremely unlikely, to say the least.
If you have to explain why it's in their long-term best interest, that they really are going to end up getting more service and quality product by buying locally, it's not going to work.
One, they won't believe you.
Two, they won't listen to the end of your explanation.
Three, they aren't paying attention. They want what they want when they want at the price they want.
Cheap is cheap. Explanations are blah, blah, blah.
I think people often mean well.
But again imagine that you are an independent bookstore, and Barnes and Nobles is coming to town. What are you going to do about that freight train bearing down on you?
Usual answers are, service, service, hometown feel, service, incentives, convenience, service, quick and free ordering, and so on.
Great. Let's say you maintain 80% of your customer base, despite B & N being 20 times bigger, selling 20 times the number of books, having a large percentage with huge discounts, and having exclusives and mysteriously always getting the books sooner, and always having it in stock when it's sold out at the distributor and so on.
Let's say, though, that you succeed in keeping 80% of your customers. That would have to be considered a huge success.
But you STILL took a 20% hit on your earnings.
How many of you can handle a 20% cut on your earnings?
(I have to say, though, that 80% is wildly optimistic....)
I don't think "Shop locally" campaigns are very effective, but they can't hurt. Maybe you can push that loyalty level to 85% instead, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Anything that might get people thinking about consequences and ramifications may be a good thing.
But if you are a local store, make your peace with the big boys, because pleading with your customers probably won't work too well. Find a way to accommodate the disappearing customers; make them come back because you got something they want, and they're willing to pay for it.
But, yeah, whenever possible, shop locally.
2 months ago