By E. VinjeTweet
Small Stores, Big Advantages
Planet Natural prides itself on being a small, specialty business. We don’t just stock gardening supplies. We stock natural, organic gardening supplies. We don’t stock just any household cleaner. We stock natural household products that are safe to use around your family. We don’t add just any new product that comes along. We examine it, see what others say about it, and try it ourselves. We don’t just carry a wide selection of products. We carry a select variety of products, products we’ve selected for their effectiveness and reliability ourselves.
There’s a growing movement that supports independent, small stores over large, corporate-owned “big box” and national merchandisers. It’s a movement that’s part of and parallel to the small, self-reliant, local farm and food movement that is sweeping the nation. Planet Natural is proud to be part of both movements, movements that emphasize the home-grown, locally-control, smaller-is-better philosophy that’s so prevalent in our national discourse but so often missing from business and economic discussions. The advantages of such a philosophy in a business like ours are obvious. We specialize and know our products. We’re available to pass on our knowledge to our customers. We seek to stay connected to our customers through web articles, our internet presence, and through the use of social media. Establishing a community like this also benefits us. We gain knowledge from our customers that includes not only valuable feedback on our products and their use but about the larger world of natural gardening as well.
Shopping big, national merchandisers has its advantages. Chain store patrons typically cite prices and product variety when they opt for big-box stores, according to a recent article on the subject from U.S. News & World Report. But the article also cites a host of reasons that shopping at independent, specialty retailers benefit economies, especially local economies, in ways that Big Box shopping doesn’t. The experience of one consumer quoted in the story is telling
“But comparison shopping between independent businesses and chains is about “overall value, not just price,” says Jeff Milchen, co-founder and outreach director at the American Independent Business Alliance. ‘There are other factors, such as service, selection, durability. You have to look at the lifespan of products before determining whether they are more expensive than at chain stores’ where higher sales volume tends to lower price tags.
Milchen recalls his time in the landscape industry. He learned that the higher-end makes and models, and accompanying service, of lawnmowers he bought through a locally owned seller topped what he assumed to be a more appealing cost option at a home-improvement chain.”
You can buy a push reel mower from the one or two offered at a national, big-box merchandiser, and you might even save a few bucks. Then again, you might not; often prices at independent, specialty dealers on these kinds of products are comparable if not better than at the national chain. A quick check shows that the big stores don’t offer the reel mowers ranked best by independent reviewers. We do.
At Planet Natural, we like to think we offer the best of several worlds: the convenience of on-line shopping, competitive pricing, and experienced, knowledgeable and AVAILABLE staff. We’re a local business in our hometown and a small business supporting other small businesses across the country. If you have a gardening problem, call us. We’ll be glad to help, even if the solution doesn’t involve buying a thing.
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