I’ve been thinking about this ever since I visited a small community bookstore and bought a book. It was one I had read about in a review and put on my to-read list so when I wandered into this small shop and found it, I threw down the plastic.
Now, let me be honest. There was no interaction between the staff or myself, I was pretty much ignored while the young man read at the front counter. He then wandered back to the staff area to have a brief conversation and ignored me as I came to the counter, standing, waiting, to pay although he did have the common sense to apologize for making me wait when he did return.
I brought the book home and for curiosity, checked the price on Amazon to discover the local store was 40% higher.
I have long had a policy of supporting small local independents for all my shopping whenever possible but I do stick to a 10-15% margin for being local and small. In other words, I will, and have for over 30 years now pay an extra 10 to 15% to a small community store to help support the local economy.
When I thought about the 40%, I was left with a feeling of having been ripped off. It is my fault indeed because I should have compared prices before I purchased it but still, for the level of “service” I felt like I had been betrayed by the bookstore.
And no, I won’t go back there. Indeed the next two books I bought were from the big box store out in the burbs that may have been higher than Amazon but still employed local people and was within my tolerances for paying more.
I understand the plight of the small local bookstore but as their prices creep up and their selection wanders down, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. I won’t go back and it looks like I’ve joined a rather large club in that decision.
I have mixed feelings about this – too bad for this small bookstores but you have to earn my business and this was a class A failure in my mind. I also believer there’s a point where you have to simply say that if nostalgia is the only thing keeping you shopping at a local store, then it’s time to make some new memories.
And finally, just because it’s local and small doesn’t make it better and worth supporting.