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Thread: Support small business

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Support small business

    So, I needed hook & loop sandpaper for my oscillating multitool's "finger" attachment. The local brick & mortar hardware stores (all franchises now) had none. So I surrender and go to the big box DIY stores. Nope. I swallow hard and go into the notorious Harbor Freight, and thankfully they have none (probably would have delaminated on the first go). Alas, I turn to eBay which was cheaper than Amazon, and I was ripped off by a Chinese outfit that pretended it was a Rochester NY business, and delivered hardly a shadow of what it represented I was buying (refund confirmed after my careful turning of the screws). Defeated, I ordered online from Amazon yesterday. Today, less than 24 hours later, the Amazon van drops my order at the front door. It's all there!

    How will small businesspeople compete?

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    Senior Member silverlifter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    How will small businesspeople compete?
    Sadly, in most instances they can't. They tend to pay a decent wage to their employees (who are often friends/extended family), they don't force them to work horrendous hours during which they are constantly monitored, and they are "inefficient" insofar as they generally are only too happy to "waste" time by actually chatting with their customers. Being human is a distinct disadvantage in modern economies (we stopped living in societies in the last century, apparently).
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Senior Member usk15's Avatar
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    Default Re: Support small business

    Small fishes are always eaten by bigger ones. And there is always a bigger fish than you think.

    This is a vicious circle.
    We are driven by consumerism, we are not happy with 1 pen, we have to have each pen on each color, and that can multiply with whatever product. On the other hand, if your are not consume products, there will be no need to make them, resulting in no jobs. Also all this fake free advertisement through media (TV, Radio, FB, IG...and so on) making people to want a lifestyle they cannot afford, forcing them to loan money they don't have to pay for things they don't really need. Just look at the pop stars, sport stars and other influencers.
    Now, because we are a consumerism society, we are going always to look for beast deal, cheaper options, neglecting quality over price and customer service. A small business cannot survive in this super-storm of online availability of a larger and diversified products, but can stay longer in business if they can offer quality and customer service over the top!

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    Default Re: Support small business

    This topic is very near and dear for me and my family. My son is part owner (49%) of a small graphics arts business. He has recognised for two years now the challenges of competing with his competition from the larger 'chain' or corporate companies providing the same services, and that he and his partner (51%) need to change their business model to remain competitive. Unfortunately, his business partner having the majority vote remains steadfastly focused upon '... doing business we have been doing it in the past because it worked'. Never mind that the entire retail world has changed exponentially thanks to the internet and now COVID.

    In short, my son's proposed involved adding more of an internet presence, providing more internet-based marketing, customer design access, and service to a wider and more distant range of potential customers, rather than restricting themselves to direct marketing to a local market. He knows that failing to change, failing to transition to an internet based business will be their death knell. Yet, his partner refuses, partly due to ego, partly due to a fear of change, and partly because he doesn't understand or accept that the retail world has largely moved from brick and mortar to online.

    The evidence that this is true is the death of Borders whose business model lagged too far behind what Amazon introduced. Barnes and Noble whose online presence basically mirrors Amazon, and others, were quicker off the mark and have survived Amazon. Look too at the major department stores who are dying on the vine while Amazon and others are reaping the benefits.

    The point is, using the usk15's analogy, it really isn't big fish swallowing up the little fish, but rather the little fish dying off because their food source is shrinking and they aren't looking for new foods.

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    Senior Member Ron Z's Avatar
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    Default Re: Support small business

    Actually Fred, I've found the Harbor Freight sand paper for the tool to hold up quite well, as have the oscillating tools that I've bought from them.

    I try not to make Jeff Bozos any richer.

    Visit Main Street Pens
    A full service pen shop providing professional, thoughtful pen repair....

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    How will small businesspeople compete?
    Your story highlights an important point. While I cannot argue with the "natural selection" outlook of those who responded between your post and mine, I can provide a possibly encouraging anecdote. Close by, in what could only be described tongue-in-cheek as "downtown Wanamaker" is the "Wanamaker Feed & Seed." The current owner bought it nigh upon 40 years ago when he was a lad fresh out of the local high school (Go Flashes!). It is my first stop (or phone call) when I need anything from pet food (or free kittens; frequently offspring of the quasi-ferals who keep the premises rodent free) to power tools, plumbing supplies, and locally-produced honey. Although Jim maintains an astonishing and impressive stock, he cannot compete in scope or price with Lowe's, Menard's, or any of the others. What clinches it for me, however, is the service and the personal relationship. Purchases of any substantial size (tools, bags of mulch, etc) are expertly loaded into your vehicle by friendly teens. When I needed to replace the lug bolts on my 1999 Chevy Blazer, I stopped by the Feed & Seed (bypassing Auto Zone) to acquire a punch of sufficient size to remove the sheared bolts. Jim didn't have anything that size for sale, but he went home and brought his own for me to use; asking only that I return it when I was done.
    I don't care that his price on PVC pipe is half again what Home Depot charges, or that Costco has a better price and wider selection of dog food. I don't mind paying more for batteries, bolts, or gardening tools because I value the relationship we have and the service he provides. If he doesn't have it and can't get it, then I'll look elsewhere--but he always gets the first shot at my business.
    Online arguments are a lot like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    As soon as the audience begins to participate, any actual content is lost in the resulting chaos and cacophony.
    At that point, all you can do is laugh and enjoy the descent into debasement.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Since March I have only been to the grocery store & to a lumberyard for paint & supplies to paint wood trim on my house.

    I grew up in the same small town in which I now live & remember when we had three lumberyards & now NONE. I drive an extra 10 miles past the nearby Lowes to support a family owned lumberyard in a town even smaller than mine. From my first visit I understood why they are still in business. They offer excellent customer support & have everything I have needed. It has been a pleasure to support them & find a lumberyard that is also a well stocked hardware store. I have no doubt things are less expensive in the nearby Lowes but I can understand why this place remains in business.

    Amazon is a reality & offers many things I appreciate having delivered without driving around to locate but it has been a real pleasure to patronise a family owned & operated business this year.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by A Smug Dill View Post
    It takes being human, and sometimes not just that but also being local and/or ‘personal’ in terms of having some sort of community or interpersonal relationship, to understand what a ‘sufficient’ proportion of human consumers and prospective customers — enough to support an enterprise's business model and ongoing viability — wants.
    It also takes, as is the case of Amazon and big box retailers, deep enough pockets to open up new stores/lines of business and run at a loss until the local competition (read family owned businesses) are extinguished, and then introducing more realistic pricing.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by A Smug Dill View Post
    It takes being human, and sometimes not just that but also being local and/or ‘personal’ in terms of having some sort of community or interpersonal relationship, to understand what a ‘sufficient’ proportion of human consumers and prospective customers — enough to support an enterprise's business model and ongoing viability — wants.
    It also takes, as is the case of Amazon and big box retailers, deep enough pockets to open up new stores/lines of business and run at a loss until the local competition (read family owned businesses) are extinguished, and then introducing more realistic pricing.
    Dare I say that this has occurred on an international scale as well. An Asian country (or two), which shall shall not be named even though it (they) makes (make) pens, has been accused of doing just that to eliminate competing nations' steel industries.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    I've been frequenting a local ACE hardware chain. I get my sandpaper and other abrasives from auto parts stores. Amazon is a good place for me and I will not disrespect them, the owner, or get concerned that they make money.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Doesn’t Amazon also function as a platform for small businesses to sell their products? For a fee obviously, but at least offering the infrastructure that might otherwise be difficult to obtain individually?

    Anyway, besides that, I would argue we are speaking of a variation to an old theme: change is inevitable. Panta Rhei. Science. Industrial Revolution. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Global labour arbitrage. You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Monthly mobile phone bills decreasing from hundreds of euros to only a few dozen. Air flight available for the masses. Etc.etc.etc. the list goes on ad infinitum.

    Will small businesses survive? Yes, some, but not many.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Yes, Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay to name a few internet marketing websites allow small businesses, the 'cottage industry', and the individual craftsperson access to essentially a global marketplace to sell their products. And yes, marketing -- commerce -- is evolving. It has been since the internet became an everyday experience for us.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Real estate is a factor in the change in business practice. In Vancouver I used to hang on 4th Avenue back in the 60's. It was "Haight-Ashbury North", and there were lots of "hippie" stores. Cheap rent. With time the street evolved and as an adult I'd shop there for groceries, books, thrift stores, bakery goods etc.

    Now, it's gone quite upmarket and it's mostly very exclusive stores. The rent for a store there now is between $10,000 and $20,000 per month. The renter also has to pay property tax and utilities. Of course the overhead would include at least one salary besides one's own in order to stay open. THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY! And that just to be able to have a brick and mortar presence. It seriously limits the kinds of things you can sell. You can't shovel muffins fast enough to make even half that much money - even if you used a double ended shovel.

    I realize Vancouver is an extreme example of the real estate market in North America but, at least in Canada, rents are high everywhere, and you have to move a lot of stock just to keep the door open. On-line marketing is the only viable solution for many small businesses.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Yes, Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay to name a few internet marketing websites allow small businesses, the 'cottage industry', and the individual craftsperson access to essentially a global marketplace to sell their products. And yes, marketing -- commerce -- is evolving. It has been since the internet became an everyday experience for us.
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.
    What your comment leaves out is the aspect of scale. Yes, changes have occurred before, but the time frame has been longer (giving windows for adaptation) and neither as pervasive or as large. With the advent of the Internet as a public-use tool, the term "disruption" finally becomes apt: the changes are on such a massive scale (Amazon) and have come so fast and unrelentingly that it is hardly comparable to changes in commercial models of the past. The next change that will likely occur in speed and scale similar to this will be climate change. It will likely be the last major alteration our race watches go down.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.
    What your comment leaves out is the aspect of scale. Yes, changes have occurred before, but the time frame has been longer (giving windows for adaptation) and neither as pervasive or as large. With the advent of the Internet as a public-use tool, the term "disruption" finally becomes apt: the changes are on such a massive scale (Amazon) and have come so fast and unrelentingly that it is hardly comparable to changes in commercial models of the past. The next change that will likely occur in speed and scale similar to this will be climate change. It will likely be the last major alteration our race watches go down.
    Exactly. Thank you.

    For the sake of XYZZY and others, I should have qualified my comment by saying '...evolving exponentially...'.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.
    What your comment leaves out is the aspect of scale. Yes, changes have occurred before, but the time frame has been longer (giving windows for adaptation) and neither as pervasive or as large. With the advent of the Internet as a public-use tool, the term "disruption" finally becomes apt: the changes are on such a massive scale (Amazon) and have come so fast and unrelentingly that it is hardly comparable to changes in commercial models of the past. The next change that will likely occur in speed and scale similar to this will be climate change. It will likely be the last major alteration our race watches go down.
    I don't dismiss your opinion out right, but I do dismiss the conclusions. Consumers are buying direct and the need for many stores using energy can be reduced. I remember a street in our town had 5-6 furnature stores competing. Everyone had to choose from what their buyers chose to inventory and the buyers had to purchase what the manufacturers were making. Products were not made to the market, but the makers where trying to sell what they wanted to make.

    The other day I shopped for two hours looking for a piece of kitchen furnature. How much fuel did I consume. Today I am shopping online and found what I want and used no fuel.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.
    What your comment leaves out is the aspect of scale. Yes, changes have occurred before, but the time frame has been longer (giving windows for adaptation) and neither as pervasive or as large. With the advent of the Internet as a public-use tool, the term "disruption" finally becomes apt: the changes are on such a massive scale (Amazon) and have come so fast and unrelentingly that it is hardly comparable to changes in commercial models of the past. The next change that will likely occur in speed and scale similar to this will be climate change. It will likely be the last major alteration our race watches go down.
    Exactly. Thank you.

    For the sake of XYZZY and others, I should have qualified my comment by saying '...evolving exponentially...'.
    Those are fair points. And towards that, I expect that continued expansion and evolution of AI's to increase the exponent. I do think the underlying cause (humans, money, business) is ancient, though.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by XYZZY View Post
    Commerce and marketing have been evolving since long before the internet. Before Amazon there was Sams, long before that there was Sears. Extremely disruptive marketing technologies would include television, radio, telegraph, and the printing press. Or to summarize: And all of this has happened before, and will happen again.
    What your comment leaves out is the aspect of scale. Yes, changes have occurred before, but the time frame has been longer (giving windows for adaptation) and neither as pervasive or as large. With the advent of the Internet as a public-use tool, the term "disruption" finally becomes apt: the changes are on such a massive scale (Amazon) and have come so fast and unrelentingly that it is hardly comparable to changes in commercial models of the past. The next change that will likely occur in speed and scale similar to this will be climate change. It will likely be the last major alteration our race watches go down.
    Exactly. Thank you.

    For the sake of XYZZY and others, I should have qualified my comment by saying '...evolving exponentially...'.
    Those are fair points. And towards that, I expect that continued expansion and evolution of AI's to increase the exponent. I do think the underlying cause (humans, money, business) is ancient, though.
    I have no doubt that you are correct that the underlying cause of commerce is at least 'ancient' given that prehistoric man most assuredly engaged in barter, and the natural instinct is to get the better deal. An interesting read about 'money' is this: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-money-1992150
    Last edited by An old bloke; November 19th, 2020 at 06:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Support small business

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    I have no doubt that you are correct that the underlying cause of commerce is at least 'ancient' given that prehistoric man most assuredly engaged in barter, and the natural instinct is to get the better deal. An interesting read about 'money' is this: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-money-1992150
    Thanks for the link. Nice short informative read. And I like the description of commodity vs representative vs fiat money. I had heard "fiat money" before but didn't really understand the concept until this described how it's different from representative.

    On a related note, and related to writing as well, there was a recent two part series on the PBS series "Nova".
    A to Z: The First Alphabet and A to Z: How Writing Changed the World. I recommend both to any writing enthusiast. In the first they were showing some of the earliest clay tablets; they asked "what were they recording?" and I correctly finished his sentence before he could: MONEY.
    Last edited by XYZZY; November 22nd, 2020 at 04:23 PM.

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