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WesternHunter's picture
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Joined: 05/05/2006
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small guys

I'd support the smaller businesses owned by guys named Bob, if Bob still knew business ettiquite and knew how to compete and earn my business back.  I usually know what I want when I go to buy, so I generally don't need, nor like, a shop holding my hand when it comes to stuff, or telling me what product is better for me. 

What I do want from places like Bob's shop is being treated like I'm welcome in his shop. Not look at me like I'm not welcome as I walk in the door. For him to not watch me like a hawk thinking I'm going to shoplift from him.  For Bob to not neglect me or other customers just because his best buddy is in the shop at the moment and needs something right away. When I see Bob bending over backwards for his best buddy and not doing much for his other loyal customers, it makes me wonder!  For him to keep his sticker prices always up to date and not increase the price at check-out time right in front of me as I'm buying the product, and then fail to honor the existing sticker or lable price. Yes, I've had all of this stuff happen too many times in just about every small mom and pa shop I've ever shopped in.  Some of these small shops don't even have a standard practice in place to be able to special order an item I know they can get, well maybe if you're Bobs buddy he'll try hard to get it for ya. 

I don't put up with that crap anymore I just walk out or tell them no thanks!  I understand the reasons why Bob can't compete on price and I appreciate that, but Bob is so angry at Walmart that he's completely lost his other abilities to compete and keep my business.  Not saying I haven't recieved to some degree the same treatment at walmart from time to time, but walmart doesn't charge me extra full price for the occasional lack of customer service.  Generally I find Walmart to be pretty accomodating often when it comes to customer service.

I can't blame manufactures and suppliers for trying to get their products moved through walmart when Bob isn't doing the best he can at it.  Heck, he often won't even special order any of it for his loyal customers.  You gotta move product if you want the suppliers to be happy too, and I'm sure those suppliers and manufacturers are plenty happy to have a corporation like Walmart or any big-box operation.  Where would they be without places like walmart?  It's a two-way street ya know!!

Are we all Americans here?  Do we all believe in American values and the American dream?  Work hard, do the best that you can do at what you do, play the game right and success will be yours.  Sam Walton understood that and he succeeded at doing it.  Too bad if Bob isn't savvy enough to do so in his business.  Sam was once the little guy too at one time.  GE, Boeing, IMB, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Apple, Microsoft, they were all the starter companies and little guys at one time too.  Only in the USA can a guy/gal step off a boat with only the clothes on their back and become successful by ambition, hard work, and being smart.  Only in the USA can a lowly farm boy step off the farm and become a major player in the corproate world later in life.  Try doing that in places like Europe, even today in the 21st century, aint gonna happen.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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Wow, sounds like you need to

Wow, sounds like you need to move where there are plenty of good folks like we have because it's not like that here!!!  The one problem you mentioned is having to order stuff they don't carry, which most will happily do to keep my business.  However, if we need any big appliances we usually do business with Sears because of the service after the sale you might need the way so much garbage is being manufactured nowadays. 

WesternHunter's picture
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small guys

Topgun 30-06 wrote:

Wow, sounds like you need to move where there are plenty of good folks like we have because it's not like that here!!!  The one problem you mentioned is having to order stuff they don't carry, which most will happily do to keep my business.  However, if we need any big appliances we usually do business with Sears because of the service after the sale you might need the way so much garbage is being manufactured nowadays. 

I'm sure there are still small pockets of good private shops that still exist.  My criticism come from what I've observed most times over my entire life.  Can't say they're all bad though. I live in the city, so for me usually my only option anymore is to frequent retail chains or big-box stores.  Even my local Ace Hardware that is a privately owned co-op has gone to shit in both service and now selling mostly low quality Communist made tools and hardware.  Last summer they changed owners, liquidated all their good quality American made stuff on clearance.  Now they sell garbage, got rid of half their floor space and merchandise too, and the service isn't all thay great anymore either.  All happened within a year.  In the past that place and the guys who ran it never let me down.  If I needed something nobody else had or never even heard of before I'd go there because I knew they either had it in stock or could get it for me ASAP, not the case with these new owners anymore.  WTF!!

expatriate's picture
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Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Small business

I like working with small operators, but they have to treat me right.  I've had some businessmen who were so good at this that they became my first choice for certain things.  I also made it a point to refer them to friends.  Good businessmen know that it's about people, not the stuff on the shelf.

I think for the most part we're losing the art of personalized shopping.  I learned this in Egypt a few years back.  At first it was uncomfortable shopping there, because it involves working with a shopkeeper who insists on sitting down with you and drinking tea or coke before doing anything, and then everything's a negotiation.  After awhile I realized that it's a game played around a cordial, warm human interaction.  The haggling isn't personal; it's a form of socialization -- and when both parties know how the game is played, it's possible to enjoy each other's company even while trying to outfox each other.

But then I came home and walked into Wal-Mart, where I plucked things off shelves full of stuff and dealt with a cold, impersonal cashier who was only interested in running things across the laser.  I found myself missing Egypt and its personal touch.  I've since become intensely loyal to any small businessman who's down to earth, treats me with honestly and respect, and seeks to serve me, rather than to get something out of me.  I feel more human when dealing with such people, and I'll actually pay for that experience up to a point.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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Hey, we are on the same

Hey, we are on the same page pardner!  That's exactly what I experience most of the time up here.  I'm in a small town that is the county seat, but still is only a couple thousand people with two other towns less than ten miles away that are both half that size.  I've been here in this house since 1975 and love it when you can talk to people on the sidewalk or get waves when you're out cutting the grass.  When you get into the big cities people look at you like you're crazy if you say good afternoon when you pass by on the sidewalk, LOL!

WesternHunter's picture
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Walmart, big town, small town, Egypt

Egypt and those areas of the world are a whole different story.  But I can see where you're coming from expat. I too appreciate that small town feel Topgun so I surely see where you're coming from too.  Although I currently live and was raised in the city, a city that has transformed dramatically from when I was growning up I actually prefere small town America and rural communities.  I live on the far outskirts of my  city and wouldn't have it any other way, it has semi-rural feel to it, at least for now. 

My wife was born and raised in a rural area in Oregon and her folks still live there.  I love going there a couple times per year to visit the in-laws and my extended family.  No rush hour traffic, no congestion, no over-population or crowding.  It's a real treat.  The only thing that breaks the silence out there is the occasional gun shots from target shooting, ATV's, or the occasional motorcross dirt-bike.  The nearest town is about 7 miles away and it's a small well kept touristy town, where a lot of people are retiring to.  They have a Bi-Mart out there which is just a smaller scaled down version of Walmart.  As far as small companies go, some are good and some are not so good.  I've worked for several small outfits in my life and have seen all extreams from one end to the other.  It's all a matter of who's running the show and how well they know how to run it. 

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