Saturday, February 4, 2012

Support your local (2012)

I've always enjoyed shopping local, and this year we're shopping local even more often! (Please read this post for my good reasons to shop local as this is more about my frustrations about large companies!)  Raymond and I realized that we're pretty self-sufficient during that snow storm a few weeks ago, but we still need raw materials like flour, produce, and fabric. Wherever we can, we're shopping local! I realize this means we'll have to spend more, but if it means supporting local owner operated shops, then we'll spend the extra! 

For some things it's not possible to shop local, but I'll make a serious effort when I can. There are no locally owned fabric stores close to us - the nearest is about 90 km - so I'll have to go to Fabricland for fabric for clothes or make plans to visit Fabricana when I get near Vancouver. But we have a dairy and quite a few cheesemakers in town, Anita's Flour where we can get flour or bread, and Hofstede's for our produce and deli items. I can get my prescriptions at a local pharmacy and I can take my car to the local mechanic and local tire store. I can buy my craft group supplies at local shops - and believe me when I say I spend a lot of money on the groups every month - and they usually give me a discount, too! And, of course, I'm fortunate to have Voyageur Soap & Candle, Aquarius Aroma & Soap, and Soapcraft (by mail order) within driving distance. I know it's going to take a bit more work and time, but I'm done with spending money at shops that seem to have nothing but contempt for their customers. (Note, this is not a 100 mile diet thing or anything like that. It's about shopping at local owner operated stores, so I'm allowed to have tea and chocolate!)

Take a look at some of the suppliers we've lost recently - Southern Soapers and Snowdrift Farms come to mind - and remember that how you shop is a political as well as a commercial issue. It's our way of saying to the big companies that we have options. It's our way of saying that we aren't going to deal with their "press one if you want to talk to a human being" systems and, instead, we are going to talk to a human being who will take ownership of any problems. We want to deal with the people who are directly benefitting from our custom, and not have to hear "it's not my department", "it's not my responsibility", or "it's not our policy" any more. We want to deal with owners who care that we're happy.

Just look at Anne-Marie at Brambleberry, Jenny at Lotioncrafter, and Monica at Aquarius Aroma & Soap for examples of awesome owners who take our custom seriously! There are others out there! They actually care about our experiences and recognize that relationship is the most important thing when it comes to retaining customers! 

I have to tell you about my experiences with EB Games (aka Gamestop) over Christmas. I bought Wanda a Nintendo DS game, and discovered on Christmas Eve as I was wrapping the present that the staff at EB Games hadn't actually put a game inside the case. I called the shop, and was told that they didn't have any of the used version around, but I could buy a new copy of it. Think about this for a moment and marvel at the lack of logic. So...the supervisor told me that it wasn't her fault I didn't get the game and that she can't be responsible for what her staff does as she can't watch them 24 hours a day. (Isn't that her job description? To be responsible for what the front line workers do and make sure the job gets done properly? And if it isn't, to make it right?) She refused to give me her superiors' phone numbers as the public isn't allowed to call them directly. She's just a small cog in a big company - she actually said this! I ended up going to a local big box retailer still open on Christmas Eve to get the game.

I never shop on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day because I don't want to encourage the stores to stay open on those days as I think everyone deserves a two day break from work over the holidays! So she made me violate one of my personal policies! 

I liked Telus until I started dealing with their customer service department. (Things were fine until we subscribed to Optik TV, which was a HUGE mistake, and they blame Microsoft for the problems we're having!) Superstore refuses to offer rain cheques on sold out sale items, claiming that it's not their fault they're out of the product, and the sale prices aren't guaranteed. (Uh, if you've advertised it, then yes they are. It's the law!) Future Shop doesn't want you to return your broken iPod touch to their store the day after you purchased it - it's Apple's problem now!

This is how I'm feeling lately - Mad As Hell from Network (YouTube). It's still applicable for 2012, eh?

I promise I'll be less ranty next week! I'd love to hear from you about your local shops you love and why you shop there! And I recognize that the Spam Shop isn't local to me - we went to Austin, Minnesota to enjoy the Spam Museum in 2009, but it seemed like a fun photo to accompany this post! 


Diane said...

hear hear!

I am so tired of lazy thinking by shoppers - you ALWAYS pay for convenience; it's worth it to seek out local possibilities and pay a few cents more to have more say on a) the quality of goods and b)less of that "it's not my responsibility" blather. I will buy at a national place if the customer service is good, but it is possible to get both quality and responsibility with your shopping - so you have to look for it, read, pay attention to what you are buying - what's the problem there?
Good rant.

Ellbie said...

Short and sweet....I agree with all said!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting where you get your info and research from and where we can also research ourselves.