Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thriving in Wal-Mart's shadow

Thriving in Wal-Mart's shadow - 06/20/06 - The Detroit News Online
Interesting theme and one I rarely hear about, small shops thriving near Wal-marts. It doesn't make for exciting news to the general public but for the small shop owner it's worth hearing about.

The Detroit News article talks specifically to some independent shop owners that are not only surviving but thriving next to Wal-marts. You wonder how? By, in my opinion, applying good principles of business.

What I believe is most of the problem folks have is that they feel that large retail giants drive out competition. On the contrary, the fill a market need that was just undersatisfied. They often bring a huge variety of products to consumers they'd otherwise never get a chance to purchase.

Where folks find the problem isn't the variety, its the often cheap prices on general household items, where that would be in direct competition to say your local grocery, or 'dime' store. Sadly, small shop owners feel the need to compete against those items. The article brings to light how real shop owners see success, and how real customers feel about shopping there.

some big keys from the article:
- think small - carry things in sized the big chains won't. Not everyone needs 24 rolls of toilet paper (well, at my house, we migth as well buy that much. )
- uniqueness - get those low distribution or odd items that the chains don't carry. For Wal-mart that's easy enough. They carry lots of common brands and regular consumables, don't compete with that, instead be a shoe specialist, a clothing store, or even a clock sales and repair shop.
- simplified shopping - one of the big things my friends comment on is how they prefer the smaller easier to navigate stores. Not everyone needs or wants the crowds or business of a large store. Often small shops are much easier to find things in.

Heck, if I buy tp, I buy where I get my favorite brand cheap. When I went to buy a camera, I went to a camera store. Now where will I buy that brand name battery for it? Whichever store has it cheapest. :)

Enough..you folks know I'm big on Wal-mart for the things it's good at.

How is your Wal-mart experience? Good? Great? Nothing to mention? Think about it, and share if you want.


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