Friday, December 04, 2020

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Shopping Locally Offers Consumers Shoppertunities

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We hear and see the phrase "Shop Local" everywhere but do we really get it?

"Understand that shopping locally is not shopping with the mass merchants in your hometown, but shopping at your locally-owned merchants, there's a huge difference," points out Andrew Page, president of Page Hardware & Appliance Co.

"From a mathematical perspective, small, locally-owned businesses make a lot of sense," Page says, quantifying, "Sixty-eight percent of the income generated by small businesses is returned back to the community in which the business is located. For mass merchants that number is only 43 percent, and when folks shop online, zero percent is returned back to the community."  When you multiply that extra 25 percent by each family's spending, the difference would translate to millions of locally-spent dollars staying in the community.

In the appliance industry, he says, independent retailers consistently receive much higher marks for customer satisfaction than the mass merchants.

What local shoppers need to know is that local appliance retailers are also competitive from a price perspective.  If there's any difference at all to start with, almost all local retailers will gladly match a box store or online retailer's price for the same product. Says Page, "What we, as local merchants, need is just the opportunity to do so."

Dispelling the high price myth extends beyond the appliance industry. "Any large ticket item where the consumer thinks they need to go to a mass merchant to get the best price, they may be surprised if they shop around locally...not all local retailers are outrageously priced, and most will gladly match the price in a competitor's advertisement," he says and reiterates, "What we need is the opportunity."

He says confidently that quite often Page Hardware is at the exact same price as cookie cutter stores on home appliances and grills, and customers will enjoy the shopping experience.

"In terms of shopping with your local merchants, normally your experience is going to be much better overall. Employee turnover is much less at local retailers because the employees normally have a higher level of job satisfaction, and, therefore, they stay at their jobs for longer periods of time. These people are gainfully employed in their own communities, and are able to offer the consumer a superior level of advice and guidance on what products that particular retailer sells."  Often the owners are working in their stores on a daily basis, and the heart that they invest into their livelihood rubs off on other employees and shines through to the customer experience.

Page feels that local retailers are able to offer a curated selection of product and that those products fit local tastes and seasons.  "We sell a lot of niche brands that folks would never find at a mass merchant. They're neat, area-specific items such as crab nets or Connecticut-crafted bells, as well as shirts and dishtowels that say "Guilford" on them.  As an independent store, we have the flexibility to use customer feedback to add to and subtract from the product selection."

In shopping locally, there's a huge convenience and time saving factor.  In the shoreline area, you can drive to a variety of local merchants and get products without having to drive to Milford or North Haven, which saves time and gas.  Knowledgeable advice will help you get the right product the first time, to avoid a return trip, and bulky purchases can be loaded into your car for you, instead of struggling alone.  You leave locally-owned businesses feeling like you are part of the community conversation.

Adds Page, "Small, local merchants add an enormous amount of character to the communities we're a part of.  Box stores are all laid out virtually the same from one location to the next.  Plus, the local merchants are normally the ones who are supporting the Girl Scouts and the Little League teams, and other non-profits that make your town an enjoyable place to live.  There's a lot to be said for local merchants adding to the fabric of their communities."


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