Buying Local

Occasionally on the WIKY Morning Show, a subject will come up where the reaction takes me totally by surprise.  This morning, I mentioned that my wife needed a replacement part for one that had broken.  She had the option of buying the part on-line or buying it from a local merchant.  She made the conscious decision to buy locally.  It didn't turn out well.  After weeks of not hearing from the local store, it wasn't until she went to the store that she found that they had never even placed the order for the part.  If she had ordered the part on-line, it would have been delivered in a few days.

This in no way suggests that I'm anti-local business.  On the contrary - my intention was to be very pro-local.  I personally work with a great number of very successful Tri-state businesses  - Lefler Collision and Glass, People's Furniture and Mattress Outlet, Merry Maids of Evansville, and many more.   

It was a cautionary tale.  All local businesses, including WIKY, are in stiff competition with new technologies.  If we can't deliver the goods and services to our customers' satisfaction, then it's only a matter of time before shopping locally will simply become waiting for the UPS truck to pull up to the curb. 

If you missed that point on the air, then perhaps I didn't make it as clear as it should have been.  For that, please accept my deepest apologies. 

Here are a couple of emails I received this morning about it -

Just heard about your wife's difficulty trying to purchase "a part" locally.  I agree, customer service is paramount, and I do believe your intentions were good.
Something to keep in mind for the other listeners though.  The same experience could have been online.  What's online is another business, just like the local one that is fulfilling your needs.  I've had orders online before not show up due to a back order.  And you wait, and wait, and wait.
Unfortunately in the online world, there is no face to face.  If your order no shows, or something goes sour, customer service is at the whim of someone sitting on the other side of a terminal reading your email or answering your phone call.
Now, due to the wide customer base that the online world reaches, there are many options for a customer.  You are no longer "at the mercy" of one local merchant.  This provides a competitive market which not only makes pricing better for the end consumer, but it also separates good and bad companies for customer service.
My usual policy.  Try and buy local.  Don't necessarily pay more though.  Find a price online, and ask the local merchant if they can match or come close.  Generally I'll be willing to pay more as long as it's within 10% depending on the total cost of the product.

And another -

 DJB and Diane,
As I was driving in and listening to your show this morning, you were talking 
about local business and the problems your wife is having. When you made the 
comment that local business is going to be replaced by the internet, I felt I 
had been punched in the stomach. You see, my family has had a business in 
for 95 years. Our focus is to make sure that you get service. Our 
job starts after the purchase to make sure that you understand how to use 
your equipment or to make sure that you are satisfied with your product. I 
hope that you will not let one problem taint the way you feel about all local 
businesses. We are fighting a hard fight right now along with everyone else. 
I hate that you had a bad experience with a local business. I hope that you 
will continue to work with us as long as we are around. (That's what keeps us 
here, after all!)

Heather Lejman-4th generation
Schmitt Photo