buying local

this article by dennis johnson on the closing of 'barnes and noble'--  has got me thinking.

in it johnson talks about the phenomenon of 'showcasing'-- of people going to local shops to look at, touch, feel, (and read, in this case) products that they are interested in-- and then going to buy them online.  the author suggests that online sales are hurt by customers' inability to showcase, i.e.-- if a customer can't see a book, for example, in person, they are also less likely to buy it online-- in either print or e-book form.

in the pre-online sales world (or in its infancy), the 1990's,  'barnes and noble' moved in across the country and put many local independent bookstores out of business (johnson refers to 'barnes and noble's' "scorched earth policy" of that period). they took over being THE bookstore for many, many communities.  but our current economy cannot support the greed that drove this kind of expansion, and, like another book giant, 'borders', 'barnes and noble' is rumored to be going out of business.  by the end of 2013 'barnes and noble' will have closed more than 2000 stores across the country-- thus leaving many towns and small cities without a bookstore at all-- which studies are showing will hurt not only the sales of printed books but also the sales of e-books.

the book industry is in trouble.

in my own product world-- the world of household goods-- we are in a slightly different situation.  a consumer cannot buy the EXACT SAME ITEM from as many different sources in the way that a single book title can be purchased from any number of places.   and yet doing business in a small shop in a small town when there are giants like 'target' and 'pottery barn' selling the same TYPE of products i am selling (dishes, glasses, table linens, bedding, towels.... you name it.... for the home)-- obviously there is no way for my little shop to compete.  to avoid the 'scorched earth' of a wasteland outside of those big chains (who may well eventually go out of business as a result of their own greed) my little shop has to survive-- but how?

our answer:  by selling products that are as one-of-a-kind and as locally sourced as possible.  products that feel hand-made because they ARE.  products that we can customize for our individual clients and customers because they are made by our friends down the road, or because we make them ourselves.  products of the highest quality available (for any price)-- because we care about our place in our community.  products that support our local economy and our friends and neighbors.

this is not an answer in the book world-- and if you care about books please go out and buy one from your local, independent bookstore today-- but it is the only answer that works for me.

happy friday, people.


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