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Old 08-15-2008, 03:27 PM
 
9,233 posts, read 19,361,059 times
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I would love to support local businesses rather than going to the big chains, but sometimes business owners make this impossible! It’s almost like they don’t care about getting my business.

Examples:

I needed something from a hardware store. Went to the local mom & pop hardware store, but they are only open Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm, Saturdays 10-3, and closed Sundays. Home Depot is open 7 days a week, and has evening hours for those of us with jobs. Went to Home Depot when I found the local place closed.

I saw a cute little coffee shop open in a local borough. Went there on a Saturday afternoon, and saw they close at 12 noon. Don’t they know that some of us sleep in on weekends, then want to go out for a nice cup of coffee? Went to Starbucks instead.

Local family in my town opened a pizza shop. The pizza was pretty tasty, kept ordering it for a few months. A few months later, called for delivery, and learned they are now closed on Mondays. Called Domino’s instead. Called local pizza place a few weeks later for a delivery, learned delivery time would be over an hour and a half becasue they were "short on help." Hung up and called Pizza Hut instead. Called local place a few weeks later, learned that the son is on vacation and there are no deliveries now. Called Papa John’s instead. A few months later, local pizza shop closed down for good. It's a shame; the pizza was good.


I think it’s great when people decide to open their own business, but they need to know that to stay in business, they need to have hours and staffing coverage that are competitive. If you open a small store or restaurant, have your whole family work, and don’t expect vacations any time soon. I look at my local Chinese restaurants and dry cleaners: They are open 7 days a week, even holidays. They have their grandmother working the register, their kids bussing tables, sisters and brothers waiting on customers. The owners come in in the early morning and stay till closing. That’s what owning your own small business is all about, at least early on. When you grow enough to hire some extra help, then you go on vacations.

I'm even fine with paying a little more for the product when I can patronize a local business. The price is not my problem here. It's the business hours and customer service.

Is this a problem of work ethic? So many people claim they want to "work for themselves" but perhaps they are only cut-out for working for someone else.

Has anyone else noticed similar problems where you live?
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Old 08-15-2008, 04:38 PM
 
8,648 posts, read 15,499,415 times
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I find that the small businesses, what few are left, seem to go out of their way to my you want to come back. The big chain stores seem less so. Lot of employess there but try to get one to help you and when you do they seem to know very little about the product they are selling you. I'll take the small business over the big box store anyday of the week.

I bought a door from one of the big box stores and it took over an hour for them to get it down from above.
I had a door man waiting on me, cost me extra because of that.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:37 PM
 
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I'm all for the chains!
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,602 posts, read 10,122,732 times
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The price may not be an issue to the OP but it is to a lot of people. Smaller stores may have to cut back personnel to hold even a slim profit margin resulting in less than ideal service. It's kind of a vicious cycle.

Would also agree though, that not everyone has the business savvy to survive in a competitive market.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:05 PM
 
763 posts, read 2,055,413 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston3 View Post
I bought a door from one of the big box stores and it took over an hour for them to get it down from above.
You can probably thank the unions for that. After all, you have to get the proper forklift driver with a qualified spotter...
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,690 posts, read 55,710,931 times
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Running a business means that sometimes you have to make hard decisions. That pizza place had to constantly heat the oven when it was open. Think of the gas or power cost of that. The lights and air conditioning had to be on as well, and staff had to be paid. When a trend is exposed that few people order on Monday, then it makes sense to close on Monday.

An even more extreme example is movie theatres. In most metropolitan areas, theatres open at noon and have a last show sometime near 10 PM. Often there can be times when there are only four or five customers in the building, and the cost of power alone is more than the revenue, even without staffing and other variable costs. The chains will continue to stay open to be competitive and meet contractual obligations, often stealing money from other theatres in the chain to do so, or draining funds from busy times to keep up the appearance. Independents don't have that luxury, and you'll find theatres throughout the country where there is a single evening show weekdays at 7:30, and three shows each day on weekends, unless school is out and the matinees generate enough revenue to stay open all week.

Those Chinese restaurants that seem to be locally owned? Chances are they are not. The ownership and franchising of Chinese restaurants is fairly complex and sophisticated, but hidden to customers. I couldn't even begin to understand all that they do, much less explain it.

That coffee shop? It may be a shop that caters exclusively to the business crowd. Go in any small metro center and you'll find restaurants that are only open for lunch. The demographics of the area put tons of officeworkers on the street for a couple hours, and they all go home at five or six.

I do find the hardware stores a bit of a puzzle though. It would seem like they could do a decent business by staying open later.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:15 AM
 
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I have to agree with many of TracySam's points.

I have gotten frustrated with local businesses who make really stupid decisions (at least to me). My examples:

A local jewelry store was open Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5. No evenings, no weekends. Terrific. So, to get my watch fixed, I need to take a day off work? Not gonna happen. They closed after a year, no doubt complaining that the town's citizens didn't support local business.

Another place does catering and has a bakery and carry-out Italian food. Really good food, too. They have a glass case display of gorgeous handmade cookies that a friend and her husband in another town love. When they invite me for dinner, they drop a big hint and I get a couple dozen cookies and take those, instead of a bottle of wine. The problem? The owners refuse to buy white "baker's boxes" or something attractive for packaging and instead like to put the cookies in cheapie styrofoam boxes. Lovely. You arrive for dinner at someone's house, carrying what looks like leftovers from Applebee's. I've asked the owners why they have no nice packaging and they just shrug. They don't need or get my business anymore. My friends understand (I think)

I guess my main message to people who want to start their own businesses (other than franchises --- I understand you don't get much say in those) is to listen to your customers! Be flexible!
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:52 AM
 
500 posts, read 968,301 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsqueezer View Post
I've asked the owners why they have no nice packaging and they just shrug. They don't need or get my business anymore. My friends understand (I think)
They lost your "business" because of their carry-out containers? One of the lamest reasons I've ever heard...

Ya need to relax, methinks.
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:03 AM
 
750 posts, read 1,282,305 times
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Why thank you! I'm sure you're calling me "lame" in the kindest sense of the word.

Maybe you aren't one to give gifts of food to people. Please understand, if I wasn't clear in my post, that these are little, edible works of art. These are not your usual "shove as many as possible in my mouth and take a big swig of milk" kind of cookies. They are bit expensive. They are most likely sold as GIFTS. For a business intending to sell these rather special, pretty cookies and packaging them in a take-out container is kinda dumb to me. But, as you pointed out, I need to relax.

Last edited by jsqueezer; 08-18-2008 at 11:06 AM.. Reason: trying to be civil
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:29 AM
 
4,711 posts, read 11,066,123 times
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Sometimes local businesses are great.

We have an independent hardware store here that is surrounded by dozens of Lowes and Home Depots, but they thrive anyway. It's a pretty big place for an independent, I think a grocery store was in the space previously.

Anyway, you walk in there, and within 30 seconds, someone asks if they can help you. And by help you, they mean HELP you! The salesclerks are mostly old retired guys....the electrical dept is staffed by retired electricians....the plumbing section by retired plumbers, and so on. They spend as much time as necessary explaining things...drawing pictures, screwing pipes together....whatever it takes to show you what you need to know to do your repair.

Their prices are a bit higher than the big boxes but WELL worth it with the personalized service. If they ain't got it, they get it in days and the old guy calls you to tell you to come pick it up. It's an incredible place....and they stock quirky items like cast iron cooking stuff that you'll never see at a Home Depot.

Their hours are pretty good...open til 8 every day. And their half dozen checkouts are ALWAYS manned.

Nope, Home Depot and Lowes will NEVER put Fischers Hardware out of business! About all I go to HD or Lowes for is lumber...Fischers doesn't do lumber.

Last edited by car54; 08-18-2008 at 11:38 AM..
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