After taking a media economics course a few years ago, and perhaps also spurned by the movie You’ve Got Mail, I have become a person who tries to avoid corporate giants as best I can. I try to support local industry and shy away from chains that haven’t done anything special to win me over (ie, customer service, superior advertising). I would much rather give my money to a local store where people offer a service in exchange for goods. It is their job to keep the business running as a result of their ability to provide answers, personality, and expertise in the field. Yes, big business strives for such things as well–but I want someone to serve me when I enter their store because it is their store, not a corporation’s.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m an expert. I’m not even all that educated on the subject. But I try. And for the most part, I am willing to pay for the extra time someone spends with me. Because I think that their business is of value and if we aren’t willing to pay than the corporations will win out every time with their discount prices.
But spending money at Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Menards, etc isn’t just less expensive; it is more comfortable. The reason we continue to return to chains is because we know what to expect. From the layout of the store to the type of employee we will encounter, it is the same across the board. We can often research the prices online and know what we’re getting ourselves into before we get there (or, order online). Heck, we can even find coupons and promotional discounts. With local business there is a bit of a fear. Will I feel obligated to buy when I get there? Will they have what I need? What if they won’t make my special drink?
Being that I’ve just moved and am having to discover places to shop on my own this has been a huge debate in my head lately. I desperately wanted to find a mechanic I could count on for the next few years I was told flat-out over the phone, “Look Miss, if you’re looking for cheap, this isn’t it.” And, admittedly, when you’re going to spend a few hundred dollars on repairs, you are looking for cheap. But more than anything I wanted someone I could trust. I ended up going to Car-X just because it was easier and I knew what to expect up front. Plus I found coupons online. I went to a bike store yesterday to acquire a head- and (butt) tail-light only to find that they were about 50% more expensive than I had expected. I probably would have bought them regardless if someone had simply come over to help me. But I stood there aghast for about 5 minutes and then left, convinced that the must not have wanted my business. Of course, when I found them online they were a much cozier fit within my price range.
Erica: I’ve started taking my own bags to the store. I am also considering using only cloth napkins.
“No. I am in the book business. You are nothing but a suit.”
You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly