Local Retailers Ride Out Economic Storm

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You generally get what you pay for and all products are not the same. As a former bicycle store owner, I know a lot about bikes. All bicycles are not the same, particularly when you compare what you get.
Big Box bicycles:
- generally only one size offered
- made with more plastic and pot metal
- generally not repairable
Local bicycle retailers:
- many sizes and styles of bicycles are offered. They will help you decide what is best for you
- higher quality which means that it is repairable and replacement parts are available
- a quality bike can last 10 or more years. Spending $300 on a quality bicycle at a bike shop that lasts 10 years is a much better value than a $150 bike from Walmart that might not fit you correctly and may only last 2 years

Lois

I'd just like to comment on stores like Big Fun and Lilly's Handmade Chocolates. The reason I shop at local places like that is because they understand their product better than a Walmart or Target worker. Even if I end up paying more, even though I don't think that's true most of the time, the conversation is worth the price.
Heather

The physical erosion of our neighborhoods is also an important aspect of this discussion.
Steve Presser mentioned that many of our resident merchants may be gone early next year.
That leaves more vacant storefronts and a continued downturn to the physical vitality of a neighborhood, especially in areas that have historic "main streets" that have struggled mightily over the years.

Sarah, Cleveland Heights

I wish that my wallet allowed me to buy locally, when I can afford to buy locally, I do, but for any large ticket item I find myself taking the dollars to the bigger box stores to take advantage of their better (same as cash) financing, and extended warranty policies, and lower prices.
I only wish that the local vendors would team up with banks and provide the better financing on the higher dollar items.

Mark

I bought a digital camera from a small business camera store two years ago because I thought I would get better service. I also purchased the extended warranty that was offered by the camera’s manufacturer. Recently, I had a problem with the camera. When talking to a sore employee, I was told the camera would have to be sent back to the manufacturer and that the store would have to charge me $25-30 to ship it. I would also have to send a check to the manufacturer for return shipping. In addition, I would have little, if any, opportunity to speak directly to the manufacturer about the problem.
In contrast, I’ve bought several electronic items from Best Buy store and also purchased the extended warranty that is offered directly from the store. Twice in the last year I returned faulty products. They were replaced on the spot with new items (one of them with significant upgrades) with almost no questions asked.
I agree with the idea of supporting local merchants but I do question the concept of better service over the chain stores.

Dan in Willoughby

While I agree with most of what the guests and callers are saying, I have to differ on their argument of customer service. This is of course not across the board, but I have encountered plenty of rude proprietors of local businesses. At least with a chain store, I can take it up with a manager or higher if needed (usually not needed). But with a mom and pop store, you have no recourse.
Alexis

Frequently if I price check local vs big box, the big box store's prices for items besides their price leaders are frequently the same or even higher than my favorite local store, Chagrin Hardware.
Using their on line service, I can search 80,000 items and have them delivered to the store by the following Friday. A 36" pipe wrench was $180.00 vs the local Sears store who would have to order it in for $280.
The down economy will force some of us to price shop, and be surprised to find our local merchants may be the BEST BUY.

Larry, Chagrin Falls

On reason I avoid chain stores is boredom-the same thing in every store in every town. I have'nt been to the Soho district in New York city since
the mall stores arrived there in the early 90's.
This past weekend at the store I manage, Sunbeam - A Shop for Children, I was constantly gratified by the number of out of towners thrilled to
visit our one of a kind shop.

Janet

As a former local business owner, I put a lot of effort into using local sources for product and services. Our strength was offering better service and promoted value over price. When we changed our business model to include E-commerce we sold more but at a lower price point with less margin. With a weakening economy and mounting losses, I closed the company’s doors putting 5 people directly out of work. Our closing also affected the revenues of other local businesses that we had supported, the accounting firm, lawyer and local insurance agent to name a few. Supporting local businesses who support local businesses in my opinion will strengthen our local economy more than spending our hard earned dollars in some national chain.
I have and will continue to support local businesses. I like that I have been able to build personal relationships with the local hardware, clothing store, jeweler, grocery, butcher or restaurant owners and staff. These businesses give a level of personal service not found in national chains, keep more of what I spend in the local economy, and refer me to other business owners who they feel will have the product I need.
Frankly, with the condition of the economy in Northeast Ohio, we should be helping ourselves by supporting local businesses.

Keith Keller

Guests: 

Britt Beamer Retail analyst, CEO of America's Research Group
Deanna Bremer Fisher Future Heights
Amanda Montague Lilly Handmade Chocolates, Tremont
Steve Presser Big Fun Toys, Cleveland Heights

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