Small and big boxes


My sentiments about buying locally translate to where I spend my dollars…there is room for both small business and big boxes, but we all vote with dollars.

If not careful, I sometimes forget the paint returned at no charge, or the thoughtful advice and knowledge from the local paint and wallpaper store, or the gallon of gas saved by walking to downtown, or the smile and thank you from a person familiar to me at my little ten bank conglomerate which offers CDs at a little less but does not own too many CDSs and CDOs…choosing takes thought.

I will buy the GPS for Mrs. rdan on-line most likely before Christmas, or at a big box store after, maybe at a closeout sale.

On the other hand Washington Mutual was always helpful and my little bank never called me back on a loan on a property seventy miles away, a two condo house.

I have never figured out what the costs actually are between a nearby local store and another five miles away, nor the worth of familiar courtesy to my psyche. I also do not shop at one local store due to ownership practices, but that just changed ownership.

Salon says granny wants small:

Now that I have rationalized why I shopped on Black Friday with millions of other Americans, let me tell you why if I have to shop, I’ll chose my local small business first.

Small business persons believe all the stories that have been handed down about the entrepreneurial spirit in this country. And most of today’s mega businesses started out as small businesses. They wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t get any customers.

During these times of economic challenges for us all, it is so tempting to go to your big box store, wander the aisles, pick up what you want, and perhaps save a few bucks in the process.

But how far did you have to drive to get to that big box? How far did you have to wander around before you found your item? How long did you stand in line? Did you get good service? Were you able to talk to the owner, even give him or her a hug? Did the owner offer to make you a deal just because you’re a good guy? I doubt it!

Its during times like this when many of our favorite small businesses will go down the drain because they will lose their customer base as those formerly loyal to them head off down the interstate to the nearest Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target.

Then when times get better, voila! The big boxes are still around thriving, as usual for their ever larger customer base, but on the corner near you, just down the street, where is that little coffee shop, the car mechanic, the print shop? They will all be gone, to where heaven only knows. Their shops will now have dusty or broken windows, graffiti etched all around it, decaying until finally it is bulldozed or burned down, creating an empty space on the block like a smile with a tooth missing.

When this happens, your only choice will be to continue to shop at the big box. If your daughter or son wants to get a retail job, they’ll have to apply for a job at the big box, whether this is where they would like to work or not. Whats more, those cheap prices won’t be so cheap any more. Competition will no longer be as tough. When you beat the competition and there is just you left, why set your prices low? You’re the winner now! You can charge whatever you want now for that new blouse or TV.

And this has happened in many of our small towns. Take my hometown in Iowa, for example.

She describes the closing in her neck of the woods of small businesses.

My downtown has shops…bagels, ice cream, paints and decoration, coffee and tea, two very small florists, two jewelry stores (hard times now), two small restaurants, a karate dojo, small drug store, hardware, plus businesses on side streets, and a number of artists’ shops and a performance venue in the old converted firehouse due to Chamber of Commerce visionaries.

This is despite the Natick Collection mall and several other malls, even though Nieman Marcus is leaving after two years residence.

Density of population and median income matters. What else?