Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The value of small business supporting small business

Thought for the day. Attention Wal-Mart shoppers, there is a sale in our portrait studio today, 187 prints for $4.99. Make you cringe? Then why are you shopping there for items you could purchase from the small business owner down the street? What goes around comes around.

James Day at 7:57am April 28
Very valid point.

Kelly Schantz Cook at 7:59am April 28

Staci Severin Landis at 8:00am April 28

Peter Alcivar at 8:02am April 28
Several years ago, while I was unemployed, I interviewed for a photographer job at the Wal-Mart portrait studio. They didn't ask to see a portfolio. The only requirement was that I had to get a haircut and shave.You get what you pay for.

Jessica Padgett Bell at 8:13am April 28
I couldn't agree more! You DO get what you pay for. I checked into a "photographer" job at our WM awhile back and was SHOCKED to learn that you didn't really need any photography skills at all- they send you to a week-long "training" and you are all set! And here I've been working and working and studying and practicing for YEARS when all I needed to do to be a photographer was take a week-long "class" at WalMart... ROFL :-p

Carrie Viohl at 8:17am April 28
I tota
lly agree, Stacey! We shop local as often as possible... and the blood pressure stays down, too!

Amy Tilley at 8:30am April 28
I totally agree you get what you pay for!!! and it to makes me cringe!!But one point I want to make is.... Walmart was once the small business down the street and Sam Walton made the American dream come true!I sure hope when I make it really really big, people don't stop using me!! Just don't see the need to dog on wal-mart.

Jenni Merrill at 8:48am April 28
I refuse to shop at Walmart after seeing the movie 'The high cost of low prices' Sure it's cheaper but cheap is never good and good is never cheap. Also, I know a guy who works in Walmart produce and he admits it's bought in bulk and crap...he buys his produce at the grocery store next door! THAT'S saying something!

Stacey Friedlein at 8:57am April 28
Amy, My intention is not to take pot shots at Wal Mart but to help small buiness owners understand they need to consider their own actions when they see how their clients react to the differences in services between them and the discount stores.I admire Sam Walton also. I have read his book and found many useflul ideas. But when your business model (Wal Mart) is to undersell all of your competition then as a consumer and a competitior you need to realize how your decisions to support and compete create a conflitct in your business model.

Julia Gerace at 8:56am April 28
hmmm... I'm not sure if I have a problem buying socks and underwear for the kids at Walmart - I mean, where else would you go for that type of stuff? or, like papertowels...any suggestions?

Stacey Friedlein at 9:02am April 28
Julia,Do you have a local childrens clothing store and a locally owned grocery, hardware or drug store which may carry these items. The challenge is to seek them out. Let them know you are also an independent business person. It may be the start of a great business relationship.

Peter Alcivar at 9:11am April 28
There is a well-known project management axiom known as the Project Triangle. It's an extension of Jenni's comment that cheap is never good and good is never cheap. At its simplest, it can be expressed as "good, fast, cheap--pick any two". Although it sounds facetious, it really isn't. If you want something done well and quickly, it won't be ... cheap--we may have to hire more staff. If you want it done quickly and cheaply, quality suffers--we'll have to cut corners somewhere, and if you want it done well and cheaply, it won't be fast--we'll have to wait for downtime from other projects.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_triangleWhile this is only obliquely related to the original post, it does underscore the need to understand one's priorities and the consequences of one's decisions, and that cost is only one consideration when making a purchasing decision.

Barbara Litchfield Hill at 9:36am April 28
I agree Julia. As a photographer, I don't view Walmart as my competition. The clientele who purchase "portraits" there are not the clients I'm seeking out. Plus, I've heard that Walmart makes no money off their portrait studios...they're only hoping you'll buy other stuff while you're there! I LOVE to support small business, especially women-owned, and do so frequently. But when it comes to buying toiletries, envelopes, etc., a girl has gotta do what she can in this new economy! As in all things, balance & moderation.

Stacey Friedlein at 10:59am April 28
Barbara,I certainly agree with your concept Wal-Mart is not your competition. What I am trying to
get accross is if you are willing to make buying decisions based strictly on price then don't be uspet when your poteintial client does not utilize your services because of your price.The second point is supporting small business is good for your small business. The few extra pennies you spend at the local store can pay huge dividends for you in the future.

Kathy L. Phy at 10:01am April 28
I won't step foot in a Wal-mart if someone paid me. The place gives me a major headache

Fred Hinegardner at 1:22pm April 28
When I had a studio, I was glad Wal-Mart and 15 other similar operations did what they did. They took people off my hands that I no longer wished to serve. I instructed all my help to assist callers who could no longer afford me.I cut my photographic teeth shooting 97 cent 8x10 specials. I shot 200 sittings a week while the studios maybe shot 20. Experience helps a rapid learning curve.One day I saw a local PPA Master hiding behind some shrubbery, watching my operation. I waved. He ran. He later tried to prevent my joining "his" PPA. My subsequent history is public.I don't think whining or boycotting solves anything more than creating an energy drain.I have even recommended people who want to gain a lot of portrait experience in a short amount of time to go to work for one of these outfits. I retired at 50.

Randy McNeely at 8:24pm April 28
Stacey, I agreed with you on this that is why I have not been there since Christmas.

Allen Austin at 8:27pm April 28
The pictures are still over priced!

Lindsi Jones at 8:53pm April 28

Travis Cossel at 8:56pm April 28
Nothing wrong with shopping at Wal-Mart. If I need staples or a light bulb or a bunch of bananas there's really no reason to pay more somewhere else. I think the distinction comes with a business that provides more than just a product like everyone else. To be honest, there are people out there that are perfectly happy with Wal-Mart pictures ... and you're never going to convince them to spend more for a better product. Not everyone is your customer, you know?

Tony Cooper at 9:00pm April 28
'Zackly Travis. There's no mom and pops nearby that sell what I need for less... and none of them are personalized custom products, either. I'm not competing with WM... if you're a WM portrait client, you probably aren't mine, and were never meant to be. On the other hand, if you are my client, you'll likely never want to be a WM client again. :)

Jack Corzine at 9:02pm April 28
nope, sorry, I take my own pictures and do the cropping and touch up on the computer. Sorry Stacey, in general I do agree with you but if it is something that I can do I will. There is one thing I do wish to say though on this subject. That is simply that each and EVERY small business owner has a responsibility to provide the very best personal ...
Read Moreservice available. Otherwise it makes the easy way of taking it to someplace like Walmart more appealing to people. I've been burnt by a small business photographer and it does make you much more wary of placing what can amount to much more money into someone elses hands (granted this is a rare occurance).

Stacey Friedlein at 9:17pm April 28
I appreciate everyone's comments. Here is a challenge for the small business owners. Next time you are heading out to do your shopping think about whether the items you are going to get can be purchased locally. You might be surprised.

I totally agree the Wal Mart customer is probably not your client but this is not the point of this post. The original reason for asking this question was to get small business owners consider the double standard of wanting clients to use their services but who may be looking for the cheapest solutions to their needs.

If you don't feel you can afford what you are selling it makes the selling proposition much more difficult.

I plan to write more on this topic in the future. Again thanks to everyone for their input.

Barbara Jones Adelman at 9:26pm April 28
Hey Stacey - this is kind of timely - I attended an event for ISU tonight and looked around at all the other small business women in attendance, met or got re -aquatinted with many and realized that this network of support and personal relationships is not only the beauty of our city, but also the connections that will grow my business - I should
not expect their support if I do not attempt to support them. My goal for the rest of the year is a campaign of one on one support of local business and fund raising efforts in order to be a vital part of the community= even though the time and effort may be a little more, the benefits both to my business and my spirit I believe will be great (and cost effective)

Travis Cossel at 9:29pm April 28
Grocery workers aren't underpaid .. I've worked in the industry and the work isn't all that hard. There are certainly much more difficult jobs out there that pay the same or less (including my current job). The bottom line is that I would bet that for most of us, Wal-Mart employees are NOT our target demographic .. just like Burger King employees aren't our target demographic.
This idea that I should pay more for something somewhere else to somehow better support our towns is bunk

Stacey Friedlein at 9:41pm April 28
Travis, I am concerned with your comments. If you are in business you should understand the value of doing business with other small business. It is good and healthy for you and for them. Discounting people based on their employment is also short-sighted.


Stacey Friedlein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M-G-D said...

If a family is used to going to Sears or Wal-Mart for photographs and that is there budget, often someone will eventually think to invest in a "nice" or "special" family portrait to enhance the norm.

As a caregiver, I find children and grandchildren LOVE to share in the expense of a quality portrait shoot bringing together relatives that rarely come together in an effort to do something really meaningful - when they do that they go to a REAL photographer.

Sometimes studios will be the special treat on occasion, as opposed to the yearly norm for obligatory portraits.

M-G-D said...

If a family is used to going to Sears or Wal-Mart for photographs and that is there budget, often someone will eventually think to invest in a "nice" or "special" family portrait to enhance the norm.

As a caregiver, I find children and grandchildren LOVE to share in the expense of a quality portrait shoot bringing together relatives that rarely come together in an effort to do something really meaningful - when they do that they go to a REAL photographer.

Sometimes studios will be the special treat on occasion, as opposed to the yearly norm for obligatory portraits.

M-G-D said...

As a caregiver I find that many children and / or grandchildren will invest in a moderate to high end family portrait as a special gift for a senior relative. When people want "something nice" they go to formal studios.

I think many low to moderate income families go to Wal-Mart or Sears because it is inexpensive and fairly low maintenance for annual portraits (especially if they have more than three children), though there will be those special moments for something "nice".

Once that exploration happens, go with it! Prove that "buy fresh buy local" IS better for both people and business; including the photographic arts!