Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shop Local -- or not. But try.

I think it's a mistake to be too ideological about the Shop Local movement.

As I've matured in my business, I've tried very hard to be calmer about customer reactions to my business. I try to take things in stride.

I wish that people could see the wisdom of buying locally. But I couch it a little differently. Shop locally whenever you can.

I was talking to a dealer from another town, and his anger at the current game customers and their lack of loyalty to his business felt very familiar -- in fact, I'd say his mindset was my mindset circa 1997 toward sports card customers.

It didn't do me any good. My reactions pissed off a lot of people.

Like this dealer, I knew at the time it was a mistake, but I couldn't help myself.

I still have a residual anger there that can surface under the wrong circumstances -- so I try really hard to be aware of that and avoid it.

Anyway, while I appreciate the Shop Local movement, I don't expect it to totally change the shopping behavior of the modern American. I mean, I want and wish and hope locals would shop locally, but I don't --demand it.

Mostly because I have my own shopping behavior to look at.

I buy my CD's from Ranch Records, on purpose. If I was buying new books from a bookstore, I'd buy from the local bookstores. (I can buy my books from the wholesale distributor.) I might have to wait a day or two or a week for the order to show up, but there isn't a book that I'm not will to wait a day or two or a week to get.

I buy my gardening supplies locally.

That's just about all I purchase. I'm just not much of a consumer.

Food and clothing?

Here's where I fall off the wagon. I have pretty simple tastes -- 501 Levi's, t-shirts, button down shirts, dockers type pants, that kind of thing.

So I buy from Fred Meyer, or places like that.

I just don't care about brand names, and am not willing to pay extra to get brand names. Except for shoes -- those I try to buy from Birkenstock, because they seem to last so much longer and feel so much better.

Anyway, my point is -- buy locally when you can. Be conscious of your choices. Whenever possible and convenient buy locally, even if it costs you slighter more.

I used to tell my card customers -- "I'm not telling you not to save money. I'm not telling you to spend every dime here. But I am asking that you buy from me when there isn't much difference. That you remember me. If I were to get half of your spending dollars, I'm a viable sports card shop."

In that case, it didn't make any difference. I learned that if you have to explain, it's too late.

Shop Locally whenever you can. Try a little harder to remember that these are your neighbors.
Really, in the long run, it won't matter if you spend just slightly more; and you may get more bang for your buck in service and knowledge and selection.

Or just in the personal smile you may get back, because that five dollar bill you just handed the guy behind the counter will be his -- and not some behemoth back east.


Anonymous said...

Recently I wanted to purchase a $3K mountain bike. There is a Bend dealer. I attempted to work with them, but they wouldn't budge off of the MSRP price even though I showed them several out of town dealers offering 10% off and I had a Central Oregon Trail Association membership. I ended up going out of town because of the $300 savings.

yokem55 said...

I get the big push on buying locally, but it all only works if the people you buy from also buy locally, which, doesn't always happen and I end up spending more for little broader economic return.

Duncan McGeary said...

I think it's hard to be a purist about it. Like I said, all I have to do is look at my own behavior.

But I would ask people to be conscious of buying locally.

I guess the fact they wouldn't go down 10% means they knew they'd sell the bike to someone else at full price? But I think that might have been a shortsighted move, on their part.

At least you tried.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Except for shoes -- those I try to buy from Birkenstock"

Do you buy them from the Birkenstock store downtown?

"I guess the fact they wouldn't go down 10% means they knew they'd sell the bike to someone else at full price?"

Or they're working on such a slim margin they felt they couldn't afford to cut even 10%.

When I first came here, people used to go to Portland to buy cars because the local dealers wouldn't give them any kind of decent deal. That's changed.

Duncan McGeary said...

Yeah, downtown, but they last me a loooonnnnggg time, (the point), so it's a long time between visits...

dkgoodman said...

If someone visits Bend, they shouldn't buy anything until they get home, to support their local vendors?

Duncan McGeary said...

No, buy from locals wherever local is...

Anonymous said...

Amazing to me how many people get up in arms when you tell them they should support their local, independent businesses. As if saving $3 on this or that is all that matters. It is, I guess, if you're focused solely on yourself and what's best for you, and nothing else.

I actually think it's a lot more important than you make it out to be, Duncan. (Not that I don't appreciate and respect your approach.)

I think it's the single most important thing you can do for your town, its economy, its diversity and its people.

Here's a fairly brief, local discussion on the topic from a few years back that just about drove me crazy. Click to see the self-vaunted Bend Oregon Restaurants blogger (who is not as clever or smart or funny as he thinks he is) being completely wrong and obstinate: