With the growth of big box stores and online shopping, it can seem that smaller, local businesses are fighting an uphill battle. However, in reality there are many things local retailers offer that the larger corporations cannot.
The greatest advantage of doing business locally is personalized service. You can get to know the store owner and employees by name. With continued business, you will often be greeted by name when entering their business. This develops a relationship that means more than just making a purchase. We all want a personal touch and to be known by others. It makes us feel special. The greeters at the big box stores can't duplicate that personal touch.
Local businesses thrive by building relationships with their customers. When they know you personally, they want to help you, and not just so they can sell their product. They genuinely want you to be satisfied with your purchase. Also, satisfied customers will be repeat customers.
In addition to making their customers feel special, local retailers can provide personalized merchandise. Even box stores can't stock every brand or type of product. However, most local retailers will special order what you need. Many box stores won't do that.
Local retailers also have knowledge and experience with the products or services they provide. They can be a wealth of knowledge when you need advice on the item you are planning to purchase. How often have you gone to a big retailer and found sales people with little more knowledge than you?
Now of course the biggest argument here will be price. It's true most local retailers won't be able to offer the same product at the same price. However, you might be surprised how competitive they can be. Even if you pay a little more with the local business, remember the extra benefits of their personalized service and expertise.
With the growth of online shopping, some people don't even enter a brick-and-mortar store much anymore. It's true there are advantages and conveniences for shopping online. One of the big reasons people shop online is to keep from paying sales tax. This is a difficult issue. Even though most consumers don't realize it, most states require their residents to report online purchases to their state tax agency and pay the sales tax directly to the agency. However, this is difficult for states to enforce. It is likely the federal government will step up at some point to pass legislation regarding these taxes.
So, shopping online may not be as big of a money saver as people think. In addition, you can't see products firsthand and visit personally with the person selling the product. At a local retailer you can see what you are getting, and they can deal with any special orders to make sure you get the exact product you need. Then you'll have follow-up service in case something needs to be fixed or repaired later.
Whether you are shopping for clothes, electronics, carpeting or other items, think about stopping in at your local retailer before going to a box store or online.
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