Jan 26, 2008
My buddy Noah can't smile and keep his eyes open at the same time it seems. Is that one good-looking kid or what?
I'm no fan of WalMart, but neither am I someone who is crazy in hate with them. They have certainly changed retailing forever, but whether it is for the worse depends upon who you are. One way to look at WalMart is as the Costco for the lower middle class and working poor. It has its place for those that need it.
One of the many raps against WalMart is that they have crushed most of the small retailers that used to flourish. No doubt about that, but WalMart isn't the only category killer, they are just the most offensive to the most people.
Home Depot and Lowes are equally guilty of driving many small retailers out of business by offering lower prices than the small guy can offer. Lowes and Home Depot just boast a better image in the community than WalMart.
The reason I bring this up is that since I started working at Ace, the obvious has become obvious to me. The way to compete with the giants is to have a niche. At Ace, the niche is service. At the big stores it is impossible to find a salesperson. At Ace it is impossible to avoid one. It turns out people will pay for that, at least enough people to make a small chain very successful. I had an experience today that is illustrative.
A man came into the store today, that like many customers, had an idea, but didn't know how to bring it to fruition. He wanted to make a cane holder for his mother's wheelchair. I spent about 20 or 25 minutes with this customer, trying various plastic pipe sizes and connectors until we came up with just what he had in mind.
Included in the bill of materials for this creation was two 6-inch sections of PVC pipe. At the big stores you buy pipe in ten-foot sections, even if you need 6 inches. At our store, if you need 6 inches, we will gladly sell you a foot and even cut the 6 inches off for you. His total bill for the project was less than ten bucks.
The best part for me is that my boss is perfectly happy to have me spend twenty minutes with a ten dollar sale because we are selling service along with our products. Customers like this will come back a hundred times. Ace becomes the first place he looks.
Anyway, I'm liking working at the hardware store.
Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky