Illustrated by David Flanagan

If you know us, have read our blog, and follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, you know we love to support local business. We blogged our Small Business Saturday in Western Massachusetts, our Pizza Crawl, and we always like to point out when we see a small business doing something cool.

Two years ago, I started writing for Upserve, a company who is super-dedicated to helping Main Street businesses succeed, and ever since, I’ve been extra-sensitive to what ails the locals. And, heck, I’m a small business, too! But I can’t imagine having a storefront to maintain and inventory to stock.

Today, I saw this open letter on Facebook from Rob Babigian, owner of Wharf Clothing & Wares to some of his, er, thrifty customers. I thought it was worth sharing and thinking deeply about if you’ve chosen to shop locally.

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A very simple open letter, from owner Rob Babigian to our customers …

We get requests occasionally to match sale prices from big box retailers and department stores like Barneys who are able to offer products at a significant loss, making our jobs a little harder in the process. It is a challenge we dutifully accept, and having recently received one of these email requests, we felt it pertinent to remind our customers what we are about.

Firstly, thanks for your interest in our store and products. While we strive to offer our products at competitive prices, we cannot (and will not) compete with big box and department stores who carry items from the same brands that we sell. We are a local, independent boutique, and it is impossible to provide our products at a loss as Barneys and other big retailers do to attract business and point you toward the more profitable items in their stores. We do have items (that bigger stores have) on sale, and in fact we will give you a heads up when we are reducing our sale items further in the future. However, items will never be reduced to the prices you find from big retailers. 

We completely understand your position if you choose to find and buy an item cheaper elsewhere. The items we offer are not your ordinary generic pieces, and to find good deals on great brands and products is warranted by savvy customers such as yourself. But as a business owner, I have a responsibility to my store, my customers and the brands I sell to offer these premium goods at acceptable prices that quite literally make or break keeping our doors open. Our buys are tight, selected in small quantities per item, and painstakingly considered; we rely on each and every piece from each and every brand to perform in the store and our online shop. 

Combined with our product knowledge, personal interaction, and customer service you cannot find in larger stores, our offerings and pricing are how we can continue to do our very best to bring you the varied and best selection you come to expect season after season, and make our store a little bit more special than your typical department store.

I feel it is also my responsibility to keep an open dialogue with our customers, so you know you are being heard and that we consider your comments and requests very sincerely. Thanks again, for your interest. Please continue to let us know how we can provide you with a better experience with us.

Rob Babigian

I’m not going to lie: I’ve bargained $100 off an item at Best Buy because Amazon had it cheaper, but I don’t feel sorry for Best Buy. I do feel bad for small businesses that get bullied by their customers who don’t understand the cost of being in business and that every sale matters.

Shop local, y’all, and leave your coupons at home! :)

Published On: June 19th, 2013 / Categories: Marketing Genius /