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February 2015

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5 Simple Reasons For Buying Outside The Big Box

Written by , Posted in Business, CSR, Sustainability

5 Simple Reasons For Buying Outside The Big Box

 

Franchise and chain stores are the way of the future and with every new groundbreaking, the stores get bigger and bigger. Walmart plans to open dozens of new stores in Canada so it must be the right decision right?

Does anyone remember Target‘s brief time in Canada? Or perhaps Radioshack‘s tenured status in the US? The Hudson’s Bay Company used to own an entire mall and now they are but a shadow of their past glory. And if you like Futureshop, don’t bother going to the one in Kingston. Empty space.

They may have been too big to fail at one time, but big box stores are failing just as much as the small mom and pop stores they usurped a decade ago. Perhaps it’s because of Amazon. Perhaps it’s just the economy. But for whichever reason, box stores, touted as a much stronger supply chain option, fail too. But just for a second, I want to take a step back and perhaps offer a reason for why they fail and why you should still buy from that mom and pop store just down the street from you before it disappears.

5 reasons why big box stores are sucking the life out of your community

1. Knowledgeable Staff

Do you think that Mr. Jones who used to own the TV repair shop on Concession Street bothered to look up the stats on the televisions he sold ? Do you suppose he hired kids who didn’t care whether it was Plasma or LCD or LED? Of course he did. Knowledge was his weapon of choice. When you asked him a question he either had the answer or he took the time to find out. When you go to a box store, there is a high chance that the expert that you get started last week. Given the internet these days, you likely know more about your purchase than your sales advisor. They won’t forget to tell you the small quirks of the machine you’re getting, the daily handling rules to extend its life because they didn’t even know about them. But Mr. Jones always knew.

2. Community Growth

Do you know where Mr. Jones lives? About three doors down from you. Do you know where Mr. Jones shops? Likely at your store, or perhaps your grandfather’s. Ultimately, the employees of a big box store may shop in your community, but the franchise fees certainly don’t stick around. Even if the owners are local, you can be assured that not all the money stays that way.

3. Your Debt Situation

Ever buy something at the brick? Or perhaps you have a Bay card. Have you read the rules of your card? In exchange for that forty year no pay option, you likely get a higher interest rate. Sure that’s great you say. You plan to pay it all off before the due date anyway. Except you don’t and suddenly, regardless of whether you paid only one dollar or 99 percent of the bill, all of the interest accrues on the date of payment and you owe it all. In the pursuit of more stuff, people choose the in house credit options and don’t realize there are financing fees and higher interest rates and in the end, you spend more on your couch than it was originally listed for.

As an aside, your primary tier lenders look at in-house cards as substandard when they look at your credit history. Properly using a true credit card WILL have a better positive effect on your bureau score than a card from your furniture store.

4. Quality Of Product

It’s nearing Christmas and your son asked for a new television, while your husband is looking for a new snowblower. You think to yourself, it’s just going to be easier to go to the RioCan centre where there’s a Home Depot and a Best Buy. If there is nothing else you get from this today, then I ask that you heed the next few sentences well. Even though it may look the same in the box and the model number looks so close to the one that Mr. Jones has for sale, please don’t think that they are.

Profit either comes from the spread between cost and price or volume. Big Box stores usually fall into a profit plan using the latter, but they try to eek out just a little bit more, not by increasing the price, but by reducing the cost. They go to the manufacturer and say, I’ll by a hundred thousand units, but you have to reduce the cost. And do you suppose that Samsung, LG, or Cub Cadet are going to take a price reduction without cutting corners? That’s right, the product that is selling for less, is cheaper. And who suffers? The unsuspecting consumer thinking they’re getting a great buy. That product looks so close, but the box store gets an exclusive product model that is short on a few features.

It may be cheaper in the short term, but when you look at the product over your lifespan instead of the product’s then you realize you are shelling out more to replace it sooner. Ask your parents or grandparents . They’ll say, “in my day they used to make things that would last longer.” Well, guess what? They did used to. And you’re paying for it.

5. Footprint and Parking

Before the downtown core of the town you live in was gutted as the big box stores were moving in at the outskirts, people were able to walk over to buy their TV’s, hardware, and even their groceries. When big box stores moved in, the city likely built a four lane highway and then paved up swaths of once lush farmland. The chances of just running over to the store are slim to none. By centralizing the retail sector instead of still having artisan shops we increase the amount of cars on the road. EVERYONE has to drive to the store instead of having small shops in small towns. Small communities become bedroom communities.

That footprint grows when you think about floor plan. No longer is the front foyer of the house used for the shop, but several thousand square foot warehouse style buildings. While it may make temporary jobs to build the monstrosities, the environmental impact grows unsustainable as our desire to have every model under one roof grows. Though we blame our impatience, it is still a fact that big box stores are big. And don’t get me started about air conditioning.

The small store was at one time the mainstay of the community, where you caught up with Maggie and Billy on what they did last week and where you learned about the product you were buying`, but with the advent of the franchise and big box stores, North America has seen an immediate impact, economically, socially, and environmentally. Though these monstrous stores continue to try to reinvent themselves as sustainable, our desires for bigger, faster, and better have claimed the livelihoods of the artisan and diminished society’s ability to remain sustainable.