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Customer Service: Mom-and-Pop Stores, Small in Size, but Big on Service

Customer Service: Mom-and-Pop Stores, Small in Size, but Big on Service

“Having helpful, committed and capable associates, the right brands and the best quality products doesn’t define a great hardware store… at Elliott's Hardware, that’s just the starting point.” “What makes us different is how we respond to what we hear from our customers every day: 'It’s about THIS product -- the one I need right now'.” “When you visit one of our stores, we do our best to honor two key promises: If you need it, we probably have it. If not, we’ll do our best to get it for you… and for the next customer.”

The statements above are from the website of our city’s beloved retail store, Elliott’s Hardware. They’ve been in business for over 65 years and are still going strong. As a customer of this mom-and-pop store for almost 20 years, I can attest to the fact that they strictly adhere to the above ideals in word and spirit every day.

It is to support great businesses like Elliott’s, that every time I have an opportunity to shop at a mom-and-pop store, I do. Because unlike Elliott’s, most of these stores are barely surviving and it’s only a matter of time before they will fade into history. Changing customer tastes; the rapid proliferation of the big-box-stores; other competing mom-and-pop stores; the internet and finally a lack of interest among the younger generations of the owners’ to run the business are some of the reasons for the demise of these local institutions.

Another erroneous myth that has devastated the mom-and-pop stores is the trend in this new century where the consumers are flocking to the big-box-retailers because they assume the prices there are always lower. This might be true initially, because, when these big-box-retailers first arrive into a community, in order to drive out the established mom-and-pop stores they do provide lower prices. But once that purge is complete, those prices slowly trend upward, and before the consumers realize they are being gouged, the only store left standing in their community is the big-box-store.

When consumers buy products from a big-box-store, they are in almost all the cases buying products made overseas. Next, the profits these mega-stores reap selling in these communities are transferred to the big cities where these companies are headquartered. And in some cases, in order to shield the profits from Uncle Sam, these companies create shell companies in other foreign tax havens and move those profits overseas.

So, with the customers cut out of the manufacturing process of the goods (produced in foreign countries, therore not employing the purchasers of these products), and the spoils of the huge profits (these non-local big-box corporations make on the sale of these products), none of the hard earned money the customers spend at these stores re-circulates into their community. To add insult to injury, after taking away the livelihood of the community folk, these big-box-retailers turn around and offer them jobs at minimum wages. And then they go on to pontificate that these people demand lower prices, conveniently ignoring the fact that their business practices made the community poorer.

Alternatively, the big-box-store in your city might under price your neighborhood mom-and-pop store but they can’t take away or replicate their storied history, their unique character, which is a direct reflection of their community. Next, the smaller size of the mom-and-pop stores gives them the advantage to be nimble. They can adjust and adapt to market trends on a dime and carry inventory that reflects those trends on much shorter lead times. Also, when you shop at your local mom-and-pop store, in addition to receiving warm service from knowledgeable and dedicated staff, you’d be surprised to know that you’re saving the environment, too. How you ask?

First, you’ll avoid those long drives back and forth to the mall or the superstore therefore saving on carbon emissions; next, products stocked in the local mom-and-pop stores more often than not are made and shipped locally, thereby consuming less energy, versus, the products that are shipped to your mega-store from across the globe. And finally, the local business owners keep their profits in the community which ultimately helps in building a vibrant and thriving community.

To conclude, if you want great service with a personal touch, shop locally, at your neighborhood mom-and-pop store. Truth be told, these shops are trying their best to adapt to the globalization, but they still need your help. Because increasingly even though the customers say they “value” these stores, their actions indicate otherwise – they’re still making a beeline to the big-box stores. They say, when the bees die, the rest of the mankind follows. Similarly, when the mom-and-pop stores die, the communities they serve in will follow.  

Image Source: Elliott’s Hardware Facebook Page



Last Updated: 2017-10-30 16:12:36

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