by Kate Collins
I stopped by a women’s clothing shop near where I live the Saturday after Thanksgiving, expecting to see hordes of consumers grabbing sale items off the racks. Not so much. In fact, it was me and one other shopper. So I struck up a conversation with the owner and learned that the post-Thanksgiving rush she was expecting had failed to materialize and she was hurting. Yet the big box stores had lines out their doors.
This clothing store, where I found not only a great sweater for the holidays but also my next booksigning outfit, carries some of the same lines that Nordstroms does, except that there’s no traffic congestion to fight, no exorbitant parking fees to pay, and no sky-high sales tax (thank you, Chicago Powers That Be, for making shopping downtown such a painfully expensive experience.) So where are the buyers?
Shop Local is a big theme these days, as we see more and more small stores close their doors because they can’t compete with BIG CHAINS. We all believe in it, but how many of us do it? And if you don’t, why not? Do you believe their prices are too high? (See above rant on Chicago.)
I still bemoan the loss of independent booksellers, nothing against Barnes & Noble, by the way. It's just that now they're the only game in town -- and what if digital stores put them out of business? I also bemoan the loss of the men’s clothing store in town that just closed its doors.
I truly believe there is room for everyone, but that works only IF we support the small shops, too.
So what do you think the problem is? Price? Service? Perception? People’s mindsets being conditioned to think only INSIDE the box stores? Does shopping local work in your city? And lastly, how do we get people in their doors?