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Small locally owned business rant

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Colo Springs E, Dec 23, 2020.

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  1. P-Nutz

    P-Nutz Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I've run both.

    It's really a matter of economy of scale. A large company will probably have more operating capital and liquid assets (cash flow), so a large-dollar return is much easier to absorb, as the day-to-day P&L is to some extent "subsidized" by the larger company.

    A small-business owner, on the other hand, no matter how "successful", has operating assets tied up in inventory, overhead and eating. With smaller margins and leaner cash flow, his or her bucks are tied up in the day-to-day; digging into the register for a few large just isn't always an option, as that revenue has already been reinvested.

    When one "supports" a small business, that is exactly what is being done, with all of its opportunities and foibles. In for a dime or a dollar; if not, then not.
     
  2. Bluesboy3

    Bluesboy3 Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to work for the May Department Stores. They would take back anything, even if it wasn't purchased at their store. Those people were May Department Store customers and the company believed their loyalty was worth the dollars it cost them in return.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
  3. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    Closed my business after 12 years, but I do have a couple of comments on the subject.

    One, if you are buying a gift for your wife, I would expect you would have a pretty good idea of what she would like. The exchange for like value was a fair one.

    Two, it isn't the store's fault if you choose poorly so they shouldn't be punished for it either by allowing you to enjoy the gift for 30 days and then get a full refund. If you sold a guitar to someone online, would you be happy with them deciding to return it in 30 days for a full refund? By having that policy, the store is unable to use that money for 30 days and they have to pay a lot of bills as well just to be in business so they become the hostages. Offerring a like kind exchange allows them to use the money from the original purchase which is absolutely fair.

    Three, I used to date the neice of a very large jewlelry chain and it was there that I discovered they had a 300% mark-up on everything that they sold. I would suspect that a mom and pop store wouldn't have that extreme inflation and would be willing to deal far easier.

    The thing about running a small business to remember is that most are running on a very tight budget. In addition to the rent, utillities, employee wages, product, and insurance, there is also the marketing costs, BBB fees, taxes, etc. that goes along with a business. It takes a LOT to be in business today and so cash flow is vital to staying alive. I think people expect too much from small businesses today by comparing them to Wal-Mart or some other large franchise.
     
  4. kingofdogs1950

    kingofdogs1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    Reminds me of a friend who take all his unwanted Christmas presents to Neiman Marcus for refunds.
    I'm talking items that didn't come from NM. Seemed weird to me,
    but NM had that policy.

    Anyway, as to jewelry I have always let the wife/gf pick out what she likes.
    No surprise, but everyone is happy.
    The only exception I can recall is when
    I gave my mom a watch.
    She had told me she wanted a watch
    that was easier to read.
    I gave her a Patek Philippe Calatrava that was
    similar to the one pictured.

    Web-Product-7082.jpg

    She was, as they say, gobsmacked.

    Mark
     
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  5. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Appreciate your perspective as a former business owner. I would never be brave enough to attempt.

    One--yes, I think I do have a pretty good idea. Honestly, I'd say there's a 80-90% chance she'd like what I considered buying. But of course I don't know for certain.

    Two--This is just difficult for me to understand. I'm not talking about punishing them, I don't really get where that is coming from. If they sell me something, there's a very good chance I won't return it (maybe they even track that sort of thing, return rates, exchange rates etc) and if I did, i don't really get that they lost something. If there was some dollar figure for that--why not set a % or flat "re-stocking fee" that is reasonable enough I would have considered purchasing from them? Think of this... what if I bought this at 3pm Christmas Eve right before they closed, and went back first thing Saturday morning with my wife if she didn't like it. She looks around, doesn't see anything that appeals to her. What really did they lose for me to have that piece of jewelry for less than 48 hours? Almost all of it, when they were closed? Not being argumentative, I'm really genuinely trying to understand.

    Three--I agree that the ma and pa store likely doesn't have the same mark up. Don't know that for a fact, but I'll accept that what you are saying is true. Not sure how it's relevant though based on #2 above.

    On your last point, not numbered... I don't really feel I expect "too much" from small local businesses. But I do expect that they act similarly to other businesses, including OTHER small, locally owned shops. Two of the locally owned guitar shops I have bought from in the past have a return period. Not exchange, return. Not nearly as long as Guitar Center (theirs is either 30 or 45 days, can't recall). The two local shops I know of have 10 days or a week. I think that's very reasonable. Frankly I think the 30-45 day period is really long--I'd never need that long to decide if I wanted a guitar.

    If a big box store charged $1800 for the exact same piece I was looking at paying $2000 locally, but the small shop had a return policy similar to the bigger store (heck, even if it was just 2 or 3 business days!)... I'd gladly buy locally.

    Thanks again for your perspective, good hearing from a small business owner.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
  6. Informal

    Informal Tele-Afflicted

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    Early on in the Amazon boom... I tried like hell to support local brick and mortar shops.

    To keep it readable, I'll share the one that made me the most bitter, but there are dozens.

    I had just bought a new truck.... wanted to upgrade the door speakers, went to a local shop that had them on hand.

    I had already researched them, and knew what they should cost... I'm impatient... I wanted them yesterday, so instead of ordering them, I head down to the local shop, The exact same model speakers... were over $100 more expensive! Well, I'm not THAT impatient... In a last ditch effort, I ask if they can do any better on the price... "Nope" was all got... I would have paid $20-$30 more for the privilege of having them immediately, but they didn't even offer to take $10 off lol.
    2 days later, they were on my doorstep, for $100 less.

    For the last 7-8 years... 99% of what I purchase.. Is on my doorstep 1-3 days later, and it always includes a no questions asked, we'll pay return shipping... return policy.

    How the hell can anyone compete with that?

    I (reluctantly) welcome our new Amazon Overlord.
     
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  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    At least you identified it as a rant.

    And then apologized for getting snarky.

    Several people have explained. Many business lack the cash flow to park thousands of dollars for 30 days and touch it only on day 31. Let alone 10 months into a pandemic.

    Whether that is the case for the jeweler? Who knows? Though their modest inventory might be a clue. If you truly understand, go back and ask why they have that policy.

    Regardless, it sounds like this has worked well enough to keep them around for a long time.

    It sounds to me like you are not a fit for them and vice versa. Good that you clarified with them in advance.

    Why get mad at them and generalize to a rant about “small business”?

    I guess we all lose our cool sometimes.

    And I probably wandered into the wrong thread again. We do fine. But my wife would be SERIOUSLY (and I mean SERIOUSLY) mad at me if I dropped $2k on a present. More so for jewelry.
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Maybe a list of the things in life that are easy yet deeply rewarding would be useful right about now?

    Scary buying gifts, so hard to be certain my wife will like the surprise!
    Challenging even!
    A risk I think, a gamble, backed by my own ingenuity!

    Or backed by the small business owner?
    Imagine running a small business like that where buyers want to sell stuff back after keeping it a few weeks.
    Like Guitar Center, where new guitars often seen kinda used on closer inspection.

    I'm not sure what they do then, wash the earrings and sell them again as new?
    How many women can wear them before they turn into used jewelry?
    How much loss on used jewelry?
    Something like a 60-80% value loss?
    Are there maybe laws about returning used jewelry?

    Or if they told you a piece was sold and returned, only worn three times, would you expect a price discount?
    Or would you happily pay full new retail for jewelry that had been used for a few weeks by a prior customer?

    We've had discussions about stuff like a pedal we buy and never use, is it new or is it used?
    Most claim it's used, because it was sold to us.
    I've tried to sell a Boss pedalthat was still sealed in the original Boss factory plastic, and was told it is simply not "new".
    Jewelry is pretty personal, I'm not sure I'd consider returned jewelry the same as new, especially having bought used/ vintage/ estate jewelry.

    I buy antique and vintage jewelry for my wife, we are more funded for the lower prices.
    We both approve, saves some headache and risk.
     
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  9. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Is this story intended to reflect poorly on the local shop or on you?

    Without the actual price the $100 difference provides no information.

    Though I’m always a bit bemused that folks think a local shop with no economies of scale that pays for retail space, pays for humans to be there all day, talk to customers and have a small percentage actually buy, should be able to get close to matching a logistics operation that doesn’t.
     
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  10. capgun

    capgun Tele-Meister

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    I think the store policy is acceptable in this case. I also think ALL jewelry is a waste of money. It’s highly overpriced. Diamonds are not rare at all.

    I also agree 100% with what Steerforth says.


    Capgun
     
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  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This whole shift is just sad to me, and to those who love buying cheap Chinese disposables from Amazon because returns are free, well, your opinion is your opinion.

    But after those of you who feel that way put all the domestic retailers out of business, and you're close to having put all domestic manufacturers out of business, your only option with be China via Amazon.

    How do you suppose they will choose the quality of manufacture when there is no competition besides a cheaper price?

    And as our landfills pile high with disposable chinese crap, who bears the cost of disposal?
    Are you aware of the fact that recycling has all but been killed off as of a couple of years ago?
    How about the rising cost of landfills and cleanups of polluted groundwater due to landfills?

    I unbox tons of stuff from Amazon at work, and throw away tons of stuff from Amazon that often doesn't even work well and dies in a year. A home might not buy as much stuff, and it seems like free returns creates a very forgiving customer.

    The reason they can make so much money and also provide free returns, is because they charge a large markup of cheap stuff that looks sorta like good stuff.

    Very sad to see this happening.
    Of course retailers used to provide service and repair, but that's changed to disposable.

    Sigh...
     
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  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It's probably safe to assume that like most guitars at GC, Zales jewelry is import factory made stuff, but the Zales markup is probably massive compared to GC.
    IDK your small jeweler, but the ones I know have actual jewelers on staff that make fine jewelry but more do repairs and sizing in the store, while the jewelry they stock is NOT import factory jewelry.

    To some degree, the more we chose discount chains that sell import factory stuff, the more that forces smaller domestic makers to charge more and take a worse hit on a return, or on not having inventory on the shelf because you have it wrapped under the tree etc.

    One of the jewelry stores I mentioned is run by a gentleman I used to hang out and talk to, watching himmake jewelry in his shop in the late '60s. That kind of jewelry store?
    Getting harder and harder to keep them going as big chains, foreign labor, free returns, all that stuff that looks so good, until one day we turn around and notice the things we lost.

    Pointless I suppose for me to rant about the value of local crafts people, or the loss of community, the disenfranchised sense that cheap prices somehow make our lives better.
    I don't think those cheap prices are really as cheap as they seem.
    Jewelry maybe, but the overall shift to loving cheap and hating to pay the cost of both community and lasting products?
    Looking at the news,looking at the people in developed countries, it seems like disenfranchised or disenchanted is growing.

    All this stuff is connected, OUR community is our life and our world.
    Seems it's looking sick lately, and not only in 2020.

    Sorry, this is what I'm seeing the last few years.
    I'm not the only one, but the larger numbers are so bowled over by Alexa that I appear to be one of the crazies.
    I think in time the results of putting all our money into a mega conglomerate and China, will be more clear.

    As far as that jeweler, IDK what the piece is really worth or what the markup is, what the overhead is, what your gamble is.
    Seems like folks that buy nice new jewelry visit places regularly so the wife can give hints to help make the right purchase?
     
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  13. Informal

    Informal Tele-Afflicted

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    LOL... WTF difference does the actual price tell you??

    $100 savings is $100!



    Multiple online retailers were selling them for $300 shipped, This place wanted $400.

    And this particular example was not a Mom and Pop shop... It was a Best Buy.

    Well guess what? A few years later, they changed their policy and started price matching reputable Online dealers... When I was trying to buy these speakers, they wouldn't budge 1 red cent.

    Reflect poorly on me?? That's a hoot.

    Why?

    Because I didn't want to over pay by $100?? :lol:
     
  14. goonie

    goonie Friend of Leo's

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    To be fair to the OP he wasn't asking for a 30 day return. Just long enough for the wife to open it and say 'thanks but no thanks'. I don't see how a 7-day refund would be an issue. Even a 3 day refund would be fine, just long enough to find out if they suit.
    I'm in a similar situation, bought some gold earrings for my wife for Xmas and the store will only exchange. That's pretty standard here in Australia. Stores with full refund policies are still the exception. There's a couple of jewellery chains with 30 day refunds but they don't stock anything in the quality we were after. I happily took the chance because it's just a pair of classic hoop gold earrings unlikely to offend, and because my daughter helped me choose them.
     
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  15. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    A story, because it’s late, I’m sick (not THE sick) and indulgent of myself.

    I grew up, i don’t know. Lower middle class? First level of a 2bdr 1ba duplex. Folks scraped to buy. Then rented the upper to my grandma for peanuts because her other kids (who I love dearly but had their own $$ challenges) couldn’t or wouldn’t help her. Anyway, we were comfortable. Food. Clothes. 1 week in FL every year (drove). Maybe a second at a cheap fishing cottage in a special year. 1 used car. Dad took the bus. Until the exciting day when we bought, I’m not kidding you, my great grandpa’s 1971 Plymouth (actually kinda cool) ... in the year a Prince song made famous. Nothing to complain about at all. We lived modestly, met our needs, had some fun, they even managed to save for retirement, build up pensions - and surprise - when they proudly sent me off to college (which they hadn’t gone to themselves) they had a few bucks to help.

    Anyway, luxury items weren’t on the menu. I parlayed college into more school and a mountain of debt. Took an interesting but demanding job, spent 5 years paying off loans and spending every spare dollar traveling with my young (well, a year older than me) wife to exotic places like - California. Nevada. Arizona. Mexico. Even ... England.

    About 10 years in I decided to scratch the itch and learn guitar. I went into a senior guy’s office who I knew was in a band and asked him what to get and where to go (Internet was in infancy then). I failed to account for my modest upbringing and the disparity in our position in life/income. He was very kind and enthused... and sent me to GC to buy the top of the line LP GoldTop with p90s. I don’t even remember, maybe $3k? Here I was trying to learn the intro riff to Bringing On The Heartache - and failing. The price of that guitar became an impediment. Of course, I was busy, I was embarrassed (it cost more than my first car) so I didn’t admit it until after the return period was closed.

    By some serendipity I’ll never quite understand, we had just bought a house and while at a local liquor store stocking our new cabinet, I noticed a local guitarshop. I haltingly walked in, and asked if they buy used guitars or at least take trade ins. They said “ya, watch a got and whatcha want”. I said what I had and that it wasn’t working for me. But I had no idea why or what would. He goes ok. I’m the owner. Tell you what. Do you have a little time? I’ll set you up with an amp and 3-4 different guitars all maybe $300-500 bucks. All good playing and sounding. We include a setup (I didn’t know what that was). We’ll give you some space and if you have questions just holler. So he sets me up and walks away.

    They listen to me struggle for a few minutes, trying to play that riff. Then in the kindest way possible, he walks over and goes, tell you what, is this working for you? We’re not that busy, how about I pull up two more stools? My store manager knows that song. He’ll play it and some other things while I talk through with you how each is different, and how they play. I was between an 80s import vintage Strat and an orange Dano Hornet reissue. I loved how the Hornet looked, sounded and played, so I settled on that.

    Then he goes. Let’s not make a deal yet. I’ll tuck this aside, but how about you bring that LP in and we set it up. You pay for strings and we’ll split the setup fee. That way you’ll know for sure before you take a hit on the trade. I thanked him but said I was sour on the LP and felt foolish learning to drive in a Ferrari. He got it and made me a very fair deal where I got the Hornet (which they had playing and staying in tune like the Strat - even the whammy) and cash, but of course absorbed a large loss.

    (Finally, the start of the somewhat relevant part) But two days later I walked in for more pics and asked hey, how long is your refund policy? He said I’m sorry but we don’t have one. Which was there in big letters on the counter and on my receipt. But we’ll give you full trade value, a good deal on a different one, and include setup on a replacement if this one doesn’t work out. I’ve been open 20 years doing what I love, but I can’t give the prices and service I do, employ 2 other guys and a teacher, and have that kind of cash uncertainty. If you really want to I’ll give you your money back because you got a bad start with your Gibson, but it’ll hurt. I assured him I was just curious, not dissatisfied.

    And that’s how we worked for about 5 years though a series of 2-3 smallish to middling deals a year. I took a few lessons from his teacher (who was great) and hopped right into bands. They were there every step of the way, helping with pedals, amps, mics, tech issues. They came to my shows. I went to theirs. We became friends.

    And a funny thing happened along the way. By then I was giving them every setup (regardless of where I’d bought), every string change. Bought a couple Martin’s. Traded those for other things over time. They were first for everything. I never asked them to price match big box. Ever. But one day he said, look, if this doesn’t work, bring it back in a couple days and I’ll refund you.

    And that’s how we roll now. I always ask if it’s something they can do a refund on, and very occasionally they say no and explain why and I’m fine with that. We’re to the point where he’ll tell me to take things home, try them out over the w/e and if I like it, settle up by phone next week. I’ve also made a lifelong friend. We talk about life and kids and houses and music and film and pets. And sometimes guitars (sometimes even deals I’m working with them). We text multiple times a week, if not daily. I value him (all of them, really, but I know him best) and his perspective on just about anything.

    I’m not saying you can’t find that at a big box. But it sure seems unlikely. It’s a trade-off I’ll gladly take.

    Sheesh. Sorry that is long. I doubt anyone read it but I’m really not feeling well so it’s a welcome distraction - and walk down memory lane - that hopefully puts me a little closer to sleep. It undoubtedly has anyone else foolish enough to try to read it sawing Zzssss.
     
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  16. Informal

    Informal Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with your sentiment, But the cold hard fact is (especially with electronics) almost everything is made in China now...

    If given the choice to buy the same EXACT made in China disposable gadget.. from an online retailer for 20-30% less than a brick and mortar, that is undoubtedly going to be extinct soon anyway, are you going to tell me you're charitable enough to overpay, just to slow down the inevitable?
     
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  17. 1293

    1293 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I shop at a local jeweler. All house made. Not cheap, but my wife likes their stuff. Can't go wrong.
     
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  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I’m not sure how a purchase at Best Buy v Amazon is relevant to this topic. But clearly a $100 difference on a $1000 purchase is different from on a $10k purchase or a $100 purchase.

    Seems like that episode stuck in your craw. Maybe we all need a good rant sometime. Here’s an interesting read. https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/a...t-buy-did-something-completely-brilliant.html. Price-matching was a huge gamble. Which most predicted would fail. And only worked because they took other risks to reconfigure their operation and establish other revenue streams.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
  19. aleski

    aleski Tele-Meister

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    The exchange policy you outlined seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    Whether or not I'd support the business would depend predominantly on their catalogue: If they offer pretty the same products as the major chain a town or two away but expect to be able to charge much more, I would not bother. But if they have put some actual thought into their catalogue, offer unique items -- to the extent that is possible in the internet age -- and overall provide a decent service, I'd gladly take my business to them, if I could afford it.

    I appreciate the harsh reality of a small business -- the thinner profit margins, inability to leverage scale and whatnot -- but businesses come and go for a reason. With many major industries in the grips of sweeping structural change, it seems absurd to think small businesses -- not all, but some of them -- should be able to stay in business with the exact same business model that they came up with decades ago.
     
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  20. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    I dunno. I wouldn't "plop down" $2K for a gift my wife mightn't like regardless of the store's return policy. I'd just get her something she would definitely like.
     
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