supporting local commerce

-- Last Updated: Sep-19-06 10:20 AM EST --

I didn't want to hijack the online shopping thread but wanted to say a few things about shopping local. There is a certain value to interacting face to face that some of us can still appreciate, and in addition, being able to touch and see the item you're shopping for. Also might be easier to determine in person whether the person you're speaking with is interested and well-versed in the product and the use. There's also some value to knowing you'll see these people in the community and get to know them - and vice versa. When I find a good local shop I try to patronize it and let others know. Add to this you're helping to improve and maintain a healthy/thriving community, especially if your local shop happens to be in a traditional downtown. This is where you have to decide how much the state of your community matters to you.

Is this an excuse for higher prices? Perhaps a bit; for me I think a small surcharge is ok for knowing the shop is well-informed, well-stocked, interested, contributing to the community, and visible and accountable. But there's nothing wrong with telling the shop owner what you can get a similar item for online, or asking if a certain item not in stock can be ordered. At the most you'll be pleasantly surprised and at the least you'll have sent a message.

Shop at both
But I have all my gear and now it is just for replacements. There is also supporting the small guys who contact customers on line too. Pat Onno and Don Beale come to mind. I do lots of shopping at Sierra TRading Post. They have a store in Reno. I doubt I will ever have a better shopping experience from any other retailer.

Shopping locally is sometimes a good
idea, especially when wanting something like a spray skirt that fits your particular brand of kayak and the local shop carries it.

As Much As I Like And Try…

– Last Updated: Sep-19-06 1:21 PM EST –

to support a local shop, there aren't many even close to me. And the one that is most likely stocked with what I need is a good 1 hour away (and out of my way in most cases) to get to.

The main issue is even money as much as it is the coordination of time, family and work tasks, etc. that are needed to get me on the water. Forget about trying to do same with going shopping (for toys!).

Yup, I like the idea of supporting local, but in most cases of misc. gear purchases, e.g. neo hood, gloves, etc., it's way more cost and time effective for me to go mail order. The stuff just gets delivered. In most cases, the fit is right since I 've been doing this long enough to have a sense of how different companies cut their fit relative to my size.


Prefer local…
If I can buy it locally I will. There are 3 good, independent outdoor stores in the area that I am aware of that I use regularly. Usualy they have what I need. Otherwise I get it where ever available.

When is local not local, or vice versa
Sing raised a very good point. Only if a local shop provides “local” service that they’ll get any “local” commerce!

There was this shop whihc got me started. The shop sponsors the local paddle club. In fact, the club have its monthly meeting at the shop! Any many of the club trips will have one or more of the shop employees coming along.

So you might have already guessed, I shopped THERE: locally. Say, for example, I lost the pump during the first surf play (learn the lesson right away), do you think I’ll wait for a mail ordered one that cost $5 less? No, I called the shop and they brought it to the poll session 2 days later, so that I can have it for the coming weekend paddle. Someone cracked his boat? One of the shop employee was in the same trip. He took the boat with him back to the shop and the owner was able to pick up the repaired boat 2 days later. Want to demo a boat? Just mention it to them and the club trip you have in mind. One of the employee comes to that paddle with the extra boat you want to try!.. The list goes on.

So it’s easy to shop “locally” when you have such a shop locally. In turn, with that kind of attentative service, the shop have a pool of captive audience from the club.

This is not unique to my favorate shop. Many of the well-known and well-favored local shops I know have close links to the local paddling club. Aqua-adventure and California Canoe & Kayak comes to mind.

When it becomes neccessary to keep reminding oneself or others to “shop locally”, it’s a sign that the “local” shop perhaps doesn’t provide sufficient “local” service to attract the “locals”!

of course

– Last Updated: Sep-19-06 7:20 PM EST –

That was kind of a given in my message. Hence the word "local". I was just pitching the benefits to both consumer and business owner.

Obviously if there is nothing "local", then you do not have the opportunity.

buying "locally"
I like to support Mom & Pops businesses. Especially the ones that really know their stuff. That’s why I’ll always choose a Magus Used Books over Barnes & Nobles when I’m in Seattle. Or Alder Creek over the phone for my kayaking needs when I’m not in town (503 285-0464). Kayakers who know their stuff. Plus it’s tax free, and free shipping too! :^)

Mail order is not entirely evil
Ok, it’s generally good to buy local, especially if you get a better level of service. I try my main st hardware store before HD or Lowes whenever possible, even though the price is usually a little higher.

I eat lunch at the mom & pop deli or diner rather than national chains.

But there is an incorrect perception that mail order shopping has zero benefit to your local economy.

The UPS or FedEx guy is a local. There is probably another local guy that sorted the box before it got on the truck, and another that keeps the truck in good repair. The gas the truck runs on is from a local distributor, and delivered by another local driver.

So there is no need to feel guilty if you decide to buy online instead of down the street.

Hail the local shop!!
Well - not the local shop having kayaking supplies - - ain’ one.

I will put in a plug for the local hardware store though. Since this is a small town (One stoplight at the major intersection) we don’t have a lot of businesses. The local hardware pretty much covers everyones needs and even has one of the best gift/card shops for miles around.

What even makes this a totally different store is that it is THE ONLY True Value Hardware in the country totally owned and operated by women - - you saw right. There are no male employee’s and haven’t been for the 15+ years I’ve been around this town.

The service is some of the best I have ever encounted. I went to buy this neat cabinet thingy hand painted with this neat grape design in the front window, but I was running late to work. They re-boxed it, and wrapped it in Birthday wrapping paper and had it waiting for me for pickup after work - - - No extra charge. I’ve heard they even pick out gifts and wrap them for those unknowning husbands in town. (They usually know what the wives really want)

Never had better service from a hardware store, and I’ve been through a lot over the years. Home Depot hasn’t a clue compared to these ladies.

that’s true

– Last Updated: Sep-19-06 11:45 PM EST –

There is a place for mail order and no need to feel guilty if you do so. That's not really what was inferred. I shop mail order all the time because items aren't available or the price difference is much too great to pass up. Where I used to live, the UPS guy and I were on a first name basis. Of course, a national mail order outlet doesn't contribute as much and state taxes are usually avoided. I also support the notion that a distant specialty shop that knows and stands behind it's stuff is well worth knowing, Paddleshop comes to mind and I've been recommended and am looking at some of their products.

To me it's more about a mindset: if the goods are available and affordable and the service is competent you're really adding in an intangible way. I'm a consultant working locally and I sure try hard to make and keep business where I work and live; I would feel like I let someone down if they chose an outsider over me.

While my TV hardware store isn’t in a
small community, and isn’t a woman run business, its where I go to find the hard to get things and when I only need a few fastners to do the job. Hate the packaging at Lowe’s and Home Depot, the only loose small srews are some of the employees. Walk in the door and not one, but at least two employees greet you and ask if they can help. Always there with a hand and advice.

Pardon me, but if I get a product for a customer, those UPS/Fed-Ex drivers still work in delivering it to me first. And you really missed the big one, your community/state both function on sales tax revenues. You shop on line most times it comes from out of state and your community/state end up losing in the process also, not only a local business. And may I remind you all that that local shop, IF you do have one to shop at, hires local people to help you and statistics indicate that $$$$ spent at a localy owned community business rotate around that community 3 times on the average, before leaving said community. Shop online and that business contributes NOTHING to the community you call home. In almost any case, and it is posted all over my store, most local shops (unless the owner is an idiot) WILL match prices with online or mail order. Like someone posted above, do check your local shop first, and if they do need to order that item and you need it now, then feel free to shop online. Just don’t forget… any $$$$ spent in YOUR community will benifit your community, and you, in the long run also. I’m talking about schools, fire and police departments, ambulance services etc, etc.

Ok, I shop and spend quite a bit. The “local” paddling shops are about 100 miles from me. I try to buy something when I’m there, but the people in the shop are not typically friendly and failed to help me when I needed it. Maybe it’s like going to Nordstrom’s - if I’m not wearing a suit they think I can’t afford to purchase?

I’m giving one shop a second chance. I was annoyed that at the demo day two years ago, they talked me out of a $3,000 yak that would have been perfect and I purchased a $1,000 boat that we only used three times. But they’re letting me trade up, so we’ll see how that goes.

good point about employees
and I’ve also found it true that often a local shop will match online prices. Also, I’ve gotten as quick delivery from the local shop having to order an item as I have online.

There are lots of intangibles beneath the surface.

“local” is more than just geographically

– Last Updated: Sep-20-06 11:17 AM EST –

If a "local" shop doesn't offer useful services. Or their stocks aren't really reflecting the "local" environment (e.g. ocean touring gear at the coast, white water gear if the shop is next to a river). Then there's no value in patronizing them. As such, the higher prices are for naught.

That's why I said, if you have to remind yourself or even rationalize shopping with a local shop, instead of running to them automatically, it's a sign the shop is not offering value to justify the higher prices.

I thought what I wrote was
that mail-order is not zero value to the local economy.

Clearly, for the reasons you state, spending locally is better. My point was it is not all or nothing.

I support small businesses
The best “local” shop for me is 250 miles away. However, the owner of the shop (Jen Kleck @ Aqua Adventures) really supports our local club and is an extremely knowlegable BCU 5* paddler.

Therefore, I buy all of my boats and kayaking gear there when I’m down there and I have her mail things to me when I’m not.

I’d rather pay a little bit more and have access to all of her knowlege

Local bookstore
Our local bookstore will happily order books with just a phone call – it’s even easier than going online. I just tell them the title, my name & phone number, and they call me in a couple of days when it’s in. I do pay the list price, but no shipping or other fees.

Agree with waterdoc
It’s simple: if you want a shop to stay around (“local” or not so local) patronize it. If you don’t care, then don’t.