The Podunkian had a post on his/her blog:
It was about local business, and some of the same themes that have been discussed in this thread. I posted a comment on there:
[quote]The biggest concern for local retailers in Podunk is … local retailers in Podunk.
Many of them simply want to soak their customers for as much as possible, period. They feel that since they’re local, that you should pay their prices and put up with their attitudes and be happy about it.
Case in point: I ran out of contact lenses today. I took my prescription (less than a year old) down to the local Podunk optometrist. Surely a local merchant would want to make a quick sale and sell me contact lenses. Why yes, sure they would, but first I would have to pay for an eye exam. Under no circumstances would they fill the prescription unless I had an eye exam – even though the prescription itself is the result of an eye exam.
So guess what? contacts.com and visiondirect.com will fill my prescription, and for a lot less than the local Podunk retailer.
What Podunk retailers haven’t grasped yet, is that it is no longer a matter of how_much profit they’re going to make off local residents, but whether they will make any profit at all off local residents.
The local retailer could have filled the prescription and made $50 or whatever their outrageous markup would be, and I’d be happy. I’d have recommended the place to others. Instead, they wanted to make the markup + the fee for an unnecessary eye exam (I already have a prescription, why do I need another one?). The result? They lose a customer, and now I’ll spread the news that contacts.com and visiondirect.com have contacts at half the price.
The retailer shot himself in the foot.
Luckily, not all local merchants are idiots. Many understand that they have one chance at getting your business, and that a world exists outside of Prince Rupert. Shutter Shack, for example, has always had reasonable prices (even beating Vancouver and internet retailers at times) when I’ve shopped there. They also don’t insult their customers’ intelligence, and know about customer service.
Podunk retailers shouldn’t whine about their misfortunes and how people do not shop locally – often they are their own worst enemies.[/quote]
I still think this is true – local guys have always thought dealing with customers meant the merchant had to ask himself:
“How much money should I make off this client?” and “Should I mark my product up by $50 or by $150?”
But now that the internet exists, and we’re all smart enough to shop elsewhere, the only local merchants that I buy from are those who are smart enough to think:
“Either I make a deal with this guy now or he buys in Terrace or online.”
It’s no longer about the size of the profit, but whether there will be any profit at all.
The local optometrist lost my business to Wal-Mart (and contacts.com), because he was unwilling to fill my valid prescription. He wanted to make not only his markup, but the cost of an eye exam as well. Had he said “here, this prescription is $50 more from me than Wal-mart, but you need it now, so here you go.”
I would have bought it. Instead, it’s “I can fill your prescription for $50 more than Wal-mart, but before I do, I need to charge you $75 more to examine you.” No thanks.