Small business myths busted: Let’s put these fables to rest once and for all
The range available is smaller
MYTH. Some think that small retail outlets will have less to offer as they are as they sound ‘smaller’. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, when you shop at a big chain store, they have the same items stocked across stores around the country generally, and this gives them a limited amount of items to offer a customer. They may seem larger and more impressive from their size and sheer quantity but their options are relatively restricted. Whereas, when you shop small business, the options are endless and smaller stores generally have more unique assortments of items. You never know what gems you’re going to find. The owners can stock whatever items they choose to and you, as a shopper, can take full advantage of that variety.
The prices are typically higher
MYTH — to a certain degree. This point really depends on what you consider into the cost. I.e. a cheap pair of shoes from a big business will have less life than a good quality shoe you buy in a small business. In the time you have bought three or four new pairs of ‘cheap’ shoes because they don’t have much wear, you’ll still be rocking your first pair of shoes from the smaller store. You pay for quality as well as a better service and experience in a smaller store, which is detailed in the next point.
The experience is practically the same
MYTH. You walked into one small store and bought a pair of shoes, you walked into one big store and bought a pair of shoes… same-same right? Wrong. Larger stores in general care less about quality and service, usually because the owner isn’t working amongst the customers and staff. In a small business the owner cares deeply and passionately about everyone’s experience and wants them to have the greatest experience in their shop. Big stores don’t care as much. The ground staff are often just there for their pay check and are less likely to care about your shopping experience as they are restocking the shelves or walking between the shoes, clothing and sporting goods areas they were designated.
Brands/quality are inferior
MYTH. Smaller businesses are more likely to source better quality items, which are produced more ethically and often locally. Most of the items they stock are not mass produced in such a hurry that quality is severely compromised to bring you cheaper prices. You’ll find more unique, ethical brands that put care into each item produced in smaller stores.
Less bang for your buck
MYTH. Big stores have loyalty programs in place that save you money on fuel, airfares and the list goes on. These programs keep you loyal and coming back to spend money, time and time again, as you are rewarded. The rewards can be good, yes, but don’t think rewards are just for big stores. Many small boutiques often have special sales and offers for their loyal customers and will reward them on an ad hoc basis.
We don’t mean to harp on about small business as we know you probably hear it often — “You should shop small and local”, “Support the local business owners” etc. — and we couldn’t agree more because you should. Not just because you will help small businesses who often support their whole family and community around them, but because you as a shopper will reap the rewards of a better shopping experience in a store that is passionate about great quality and great service.
The experience: Small business v Big business
In true myth buster style we put it to the test and went shoe shopping at a big business department store (will remain unnamed) and a small business shoe boutique, Shoetique in Southport.
Today I’m off to buy some cute new shoes for work. Nothing too high because I already own a bunch of high shoes and my legs and feet can probably do with a break at least one day a week. I’m thinking some ankle boots with a bit of detail. I don’t have much time as I have a bunch of other things to do so I want to be in and out ASAP — wish me luck!
First stop is our department store. I walk in and no staff member looks twice at me. Now where are the shoes kept in this big maze? I dawdle past clothing, homewares and even bikes before I come across the shoe section. I then walk down the aisles until I come across a selection of five styles of ankle boots. None of them excite me and they range from bland, black and boring boots you could go farming in to slightly shiny brown boots that would look in place at a country rodeo — and best of all you wouldn’t know if you stepped in animal poo because it would blend right in. I’m here so I may as well try them on. I pick out three of the best of the bad bunch in a size 8. I try on the first, they make my ankles look chunky and I have very slender ankles — nope! Then I put on the next pair… these aren’t bad but they’re not good. The last I try to get my foot into and it is not going to happen. So I look for a 9 but there are none. I then search the store for someone to help me locate a pair of 9s. I must look quite a sight in my purple and green stripy socks almost slipping on the floor as I go. I ice skate my way to the sports department before I find a staff member. The young man looks very confused when I ask, “Hey, who can I talk to about a size up in these?” He walks over to an older woman working near the fitting rooms and shares with her my request. She asks me to wait here while she looks, she takes the ankle boot fit to fulfil every cowboy’s desire and disappears. Ten minutes later she returns with ugly boot in hand and tells me they are out of stock, sorry, but they have 9s in the knee high boots. I say thanks and skate my way back to my knee high boots I came in, that I certainly need no more of. I decide not to buy the second boot because it’s the 21st century and if something isn’t bad, that sure as heck doesn’t make it good, especially not for $60. I walk out of the store unfulfilled and a little frustrated, and no staff member even offers a good bye on my way out.
Total time spent = 35 minutes
Total dollars spent = $0.00
I try to gather my composure as I walk into Shoetique. The store is colourful on the outside and as soon as I walk in the door I am greeted by Cathy “Hello! How are you?” I reply I’m well and tell her my vision of cute little ankle boots for work. She takes me over to a wall of boots that are in every colour and style, with lace on the top, trimmings, zippers and more. I point out a few styles and try them on in a size 8. They are all so cute! There’s a tan pair that have lace on the top and I can just imagine how cute they would look with my boyfriend jeans and a casual tee, and they fit so well. I also try on a shiny black pair with a zip down the side, and these are to die for too! Cathy stays with me as I try them on and asks about my day, tells me about how I could style the boots and ensures they all fit well and are comfortable. I have no doubt if any did not fit well she would have got the right size for me in a jiffy too. I decide on the first pair of tan boots with lace on top. Cathy boxes them up for me, I pay for them and leave the store smiling, not only because I have some super-cute new shoes but also because it was such a great experience and Cathy wished me a wonderful rest of the day on my way out. Day made.
Total time spent = 15 minutes
Total money spent = $199