Friday, April 11, 2008

Put Your Money Where your Mouth is or Realeconomik?

I believe in supporting local business. On the other hand, I have been wondering whether my shopping habits can make a difference, or if it only delays the enevitable. I've been saving my pennies and I want to buy a new canoe. The locally owned shop has the canoe I want. The chain store has the same canoe for $130 cheaper. My wife says I should buy local because of all that I have said in the past. Even if I still felt as strongly about buying local, isn't this making a $130 donation if I go to the local shop? I mean, I don't mind paying slightly higher prices, but is this a business or a charity?

How should I look at this situation? I'd really like to hear thoughts from both sides.


JB said...

That’s a tough one – I like to support the locals, but that’s a significant price difference. Tell hthem you’ll give them $65 less than they're asking and basically split the difference. Will one offer a better warranty or service on it?

Alex said...

Wow, $130.00 more? That is quite a difference and one must ponder why this chain has it that much lower. Do they really buy these things in bulk or is the local business trying to make a massive profit? I shop for my groceries at a local grocer but if their prices are not right (like Whole Foods), I will go to the chains. A little common sense needs to be used sometimes.

Civis said...

Thanks JB and Alex,

There is no warranty difference.

I think the chain can do it cheaper because of shipping--may also get abulk price.

Alex, what do you think of JB's "split the difference" idea?

Rodak said...

I think that if the local shop has nothing solid to offer you in the way of convenience, or maintaining the ambience of the neighborhood, or offering a unique line of goods that you regularly buy, etc., then the $130 would basically be going down the drain.
My response was initially going to be the same as JB's. But the more I thought about it, I had to ask: For what, exactly, would Civis be paying extra? What's in it for Civis? If you see the proprietor selling pencils from a tin cup because the chain ran him out of business, that's the time for charity.

Civis said...


Thanks for weighing in. I think you're right.

They do have some unique products. Probably the best thing they offer is knowledge. You won't waste your money on something that is not going to suit your needs there. They give good advice and will telling you not to buy something if they think it's not right for you.

So, I do feel a certain loyalty to them. But they did not help me or advice me on this purchase, and--well, it just seems silly to pay THAT much more.

Anyway, I called them before I left work and, although the person who could cut a deal was not there, they said that they would verify the price at the big shop and--it was unclear if they would match the price or just come down. I'm going to give them a chance. I told them, I wanted to give them my business, but it just seemed like a big price difference.

It seems a little silly to agonoize so much. I guess I won't go to hell for rash judgment on this one. ha ha.

Linda said...

Save your money, buy at the chain store and then SPEND the $130 at the local store for the extras that are on your "wish list."

The chain store also adds to the local econonmy through the employment of other consumers. Patronizing the larger store is not wrong; it's keeping people (your neighbors) employed.

Rodak said...

Linda has the best plan so far.

Civis said...

Yep. I think I'll follow Linda's advice.

DJ said...

"If you see the proprietor selling pencils from a tin cup because the chain ran him out of business, that's the time for charity."

Yikes, what a shortsighted view! Living near a small city, I often find myself faced with the same dilemma. Do I patronize the local stores, or buy it cheaper at Walmart?

Is there a value added to a locally owned store? You bet.
Walmart provides low-quality jobs at a cost of small, locally-owned businesses (which they cheerfully put out of business) that offer their many proprietors plenty of opportunity to prosper. Those proprietors contribute to the community not only with property taxes and purchasing power (offerin each of us the chance to prosper), but with values such as education, entrepreneurship, and local decisionmaking. Look to Walmart for local leadership and you'll get charity. They don't much care for entrepreneurship, because that's competition to them.

I admit it's a tough sell when I'm at the store with my wallet in my hand. But if there's any difference at all in brand or quality, I go with the local store. (That includes all fresh food, since Walmart's food doesn't measure up to the local grocery store.) My wife and I give in to the temptation to buy our paper goods at "Wally World," but I really do try not to patronize them much. I also am a local business owner-- an accountant-- and trust me, Walmart won't be seeking out my services.