A Business Owner

Unique Delighting Business

Mom and Pop Stores and How They Will Survive

Mom and Pop Stores and How They Will Survive

Week after week the media continues to report another Walmart or some other big box store opening up and putting the small business owner out of business. They report that the small town fights these big box stores trying to prevent them from moving in. The towns use the argument that they will ruin the community and create traffic problems. In most cases the towns eventually lose and the neighborhood undergoes a major change.

After the big boxes move in, many mom and pop stores do go out of business. So does this mean the end of the small retail business owner? In a word, no. The key to surviving in today’s retail world is developing a niche. Walmart and other big box stores cannot do this. These behemoths need to mass buy and they also need high volume to push merchandise out at low margins. They may buy hundreds of containers of a particular product. They depend on merchandise to be mass produced in China as over 75% of their merchandise is. If your store sells the same product you are dead in the water as you will be unable to sell at the low big box margins and you will join the businesses that fold when the big boxes arrive.

Since the big boxes depend on mass production, that is something you need to avoid. Niche selling is the key to surviving in today’s mom and pop world. There are multiple ways to do this. One is to offer products that are unique. These can be products which relate specifically to the area you are in. They can also be products made by the people in the community and surrounding area. Unique can also mean hard to find items. Make sure your products are different even if they are related to the big boxes. Carry more than the hot seller of a product line. Go deep into the product lines and specialize. Doing this gives you the advantage over the big boxes since they tend to carry only the best sellers. Try to avoid mass production products, look for items that are made by lesser known companies.

Another way is to create a different atmosphere. Ideas such as using an open air atmosphere, or a lighting system that stands out, or create a theme. You want your customer to escape into your store world, to give the customer a good feeling just by stepping into your store. A different atmosphere sets you apart from the big boxes that look like warehouses painted white. People will remember your mom and pop store. Remembering makes them tell their friends their experience and also makes a repeat customer.

Give superior customer service. Go over and above to help the customer and not just to make a sale. The customer is your partner and helping them will help you. Be willing to spend more time with your customers even if you know the sale will not compensate you for your time. Train your employees to do the same. Smile, be friendly and above all help the customer and make them feel at home in your store.

Giveaways work well, when a customer purchases something give more than they expected. Gift wrapping is one way to do this. Another way is to take extra care to package their purchase, protecting it and making it easy for them to carry out. Small gifts for children is also a tried and true method of building relationships and repeat customers.

Look at the big boxes and what they cannot give the customers. Then you do what they cannot do. It’s difficult for them to turn their big ship around, but your small mom and pop ship handles well and your path can be changed quickly to out fox those behemoths.