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Mom and Pop Retailer vs. Wal-Mart

Nov 18, 2012

I watched a documentary last night about WalMart and how they went into a small town and the small mom and pop retailers suffered. Whenever they showed the mom and pop store, the music was soft and inviting, and when they showed WalMart, the music sounded like the theme music from Star Wars whenever Darth Vader appeared onscreen.

Now, I am far from a WalMart supporter. I see them for what they are: a huge retailer that brings in products from other countries and markets as a low price leader. I get it. People want to save a buck. And as Americans we are just as at fault as WalMart, because last I checked they were not holding a gun to our head forcing us to buy. 

As a retailer, I will say however that it falls on us, the small retailer, to create a streamlined business model, find American made brands and products which are competitively priced and provide awesome customer service.

It's a lot like one of my neighbors down the street. When we first opened up, they felt threatened and called suppliers complaining, sent friends of theirs into the store to try to intimidate us. But eventually, they figured it out. They cleaned their store, put up some new signs, stepped up their game. It's called competition. Everyone, including WalMart, has a right to start a business and charge whatever price they want for their products. They can buy from whatever supplier they want as well. And it falls on the consumer to use their brain and support businesses who have their best interests at heart, and their wallets best interest.

Why is WalMart so successful? Low prices and convenience. Let's face it, they are open early, everyday and late or 24 hours. They have a huge selection and they are cheaper on items. When you place an order for 100,000 towels, you are going to get a better price than the company that orders 20. This gives them a huge competitive edge. 

In the movie, one of the workers at the mom and pop suggested their should be some regulation to prevent WalMart from doing business. I bristled at that comment. The last thing we need is the government meddling in the workings of small businesses. What needs to happen is Americans need to regulate themselves. If we are not smart enough to think about where our money goes, how our purchase affects our local economy, then we need to educate our populace better.

The only reason WalMart grows is because people shop there. Stop shopping there and they will not exist. It's that simple. Vote with your wallet.

Why is there no WalMart here in the Berkeley area, or San Francisco? The locals would likely storm the city offices demanding they revoke their building permit. It would never get off the ground. It starts with people. People in action. And shopping is the first and almighty action that dictates who stays in business and who goes out of business. If you are charging more than others, you are going to have a hard time convincing customers to shop at your store. If you are rude to customers, if your store is dirty and uninviting, you won't be in business long.

I hear complaints all the time in the mattress business too, similar to the WalMart complaints. Stores like Sleep Train, Mancini's, Macy's, Mattress Discounters...people hate the strong arm tactics and used car sales approach. Customers are concerned about the plastics and chemicals and off-gassing and petroleum fabrics and foams. But last I checked, those companies are spending millions in advertising and sponsoring sports arenas. Where are they getting the money to do this? You. People keep shopping there because they see a low price instead of shopping for value.

So it falls back on us, the small retailer, to attract customers with good old fashioned hard work, a smile, a broom, competitive prices and a bit of savvy marketing to remain competitive. 

At Nest Bedding you will find unique items, well priced, a staff with a ready smile and an ear, no pressure tactics, high quality mattresses and bedding made here in the USA. The good old fashioned way. And if more retailers would stop complaining and learn to adapt, we wouldn't have these issues.

  • WalMart