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1.) Swamp Fox - 11/03/2014
Working on a little project about big retailers competing with small shops---fishing, hunting, outdoor gear, etc.

I'm short on quotes and my deadline is looming.

Beyond the obvious point---service---tell me what you think and what you see in your area. Hurting small businesses, or possibly helping make them better?

Can you find a small hunting or fishing shop in your area any more? (Not talking about archery shops, necessarily. In my area, there are more archery shops than true bait and tackle shops, because you don't go in those to get the technician to tie knots, etc, for you, LOL)

Maybe the service point isn't so obvious. If you have a good point to make about service, let me have it.

Also, inventory, hours, knowledge, convenient location, on-line ordering, web/social media presence....All that good stuff.

If you were trying to explain to people what's going on with big retailers compared to small in the outdoor field, what things would you detail?
2.) bluecat - 11/03/2014
I try to avoid the big retailers as probably many of us do. The only thing the person knows behind the counter is how to make change...um scratch that, they let the computer tell you what change to return.

It's just rare you find someone that actually uses the stuff they sell in a big retailer. One way you can tell is the big retail shops sell every doo-dad known to man. In a small retail shop, they sell only the doo-dads that have value.

How am I doin? :wink
3.) Swamp Fox - 11/03/2014
You're doing great, LOL...I was just thinking to myself, "Hmmm, three and a half hours and not even any jokes about Dick's, and who doesn't like Dick's, and who does..."

So I'm glad you saved us from THAT...:wink...

I spoke with one store owner who pointed out he can keep an eye out for what's hot and change his inventory more easily, which is not something I see Dick's or Gander and that tier doing too much.

Interestingly, he didn't breathe a word about service, or competition from internet sales.
4.) Alex - 11/03/2014
Small shop owners tend to be subject matter experts. They usually bring their experience and passion for the subject to the store every single day. Large retailers are corporate revenue generating outlets. If you're lucky you may get some staff that bring some experience to the sales floor. Mostly you end up with people more familiar with sales than the product they are trying to sell. How lucky you do you feel and is it worth saving a couple bucks. How much is your time worth?
5.) Wild Bob - 11/03/2014
Actually, I kind of like the bigger retailers as I can go and browse the inventory, and look without being hounded to death by someone that thinks they know what I need or want.

But then again, my wife and kids keep telling me I'm not the most social guy around...so may be the issue is all me! LOL :-)
6.) Swamp Fox - 11/03/2014
Now that's what you call a good quote, boys and girls!

7.) Hunter - 11/04/2014
I do like to patronize hometown businesses. Most of the time I have already researched what I want and am ready to buy. I will pay a little more to the small guy as long as he is not way overcharging. On the other hand, like Bob, I like to browse through the big retailers.

How's that for being wishy washy? :wave:
8.) Swamp Fox - 11/04/2014
I'm like that myself. I don't think of it as wishy-washy; I think of it as "everything has its place."

I've been a catalog shopper since I was a kid. I love flipping through pages and waiting for the big brown truck, or going to the mailbox to peek. When the internet came along...Woo-Hoo!

I also usually know what I want before I step inside a store, but I'll take the help where I don't, or if it's something the details of which would make my eyes roll up in the back of my head. I'm more likely to buy from a brick-and-mortar store if they provided some type of installation or maintenance service that saves me time, aggravation, or learning something new. :wink I can think of very few exceptions where that doesn't mean a small shop.

I'd go to a small shop for any kind of work. I had a nice "kid" (early twenties) spool two fishing reels two different ways at Sportsman's Warehouse one day back in the spring. I spent the next few days fighting line twist on one reel until I could get to another store that carried the fishing line I wanted for re-spool. Not only was the kid old enough to know better on his own, but SW and the other big stores have to know their "technicians" screw up a lot, don't they?

Some small shop owners may not be automatically higher than whoever you think is automatically lower on price. They have the power and sometimes the motivation to get you a deal to get the sale, whereas there's no negotiating at a more corporate operation.

I also like to special-order stuff, and of course that's almost exclusively a small-store deal. If I'm really tight with the small shop people, I will often special-order through them even though I could just as easily get the item off the internet a little less expensively. I figure that's payment for some of these people who have to put up with me darkening the doors of their shops. :wink
9.) luv2bowhunt - 11/05/2014
Hard to avoid the bigger stores or catalogs when they're the ones with the products. I can't think of any small shop around here where you'd want to pick out your hunting or rain outfit.
10.) bluecat - 11/05/2014
[QUOTE=luv2bowhunt;26934]Hard to avoid the bigger stores or catalogs when they're the ones with the products. I can't think of any small shop around here where you'd want to pick out your hunting or rain outfit.[/QUOTE]

Good point. They definately don't have the selection necessarily. I wish there was the best of both worlds - selection, price vs knowledge, friendliness, and contributing to local economy.

The closest I've ever come to that is a store in Lincoln, Nebraska named Scheels. It is a midwest chain. Their selection was better than Cabelas and every one of those workers in hunting lived and breathed it. I miss that store.
11.) bluecat - 11/05/2014
...and they miss me. :wink
12.) Bob Peck - 11/06/2014
Big box retailers absolutely, positively OWN the hunting retail market. Period. End of story.

Americans want it cheap, fast and high quality and will award their business to someone who is offering the product $1 cheaper. This is our reality and it's all at our finger tips on the keyboard.

Small shops cannot compete with the price points, buying power or inventory of a Big Box. No way, no how. The abandonment rate (i.e. a Mom-n-Pop's closing up) is nearly 70% three years after opening. The pressure on the small business owner to anticipate and correctly stock their store is intense. Buy too heavy and have left over inventory and your margins shrink or disappear. Buy too little and you lose sales and margin. They are outgunned and out manned and it's been this way for a very long time.

Having said all this, small shops will always survive and thrive because 100% of outdoor products are not purchased by consumers driven by dollars. Some are driven by relationships (something rare in the Big Box), some thrive on the camaraderie of archery leagues & 3-D shoots and still some believe supporting the local economy is the right thing to do. Some of us are hybrids price shopping given commodities while choosing to support the local business with other purchases. Finally, there is something to be said about holding a high dollar investment like a bow in your hands and shooting it before you buy it. This is a double edged sword because many consumers try out the bow in the small shop and buy it cheaper from the Big Box.

At the end of the day small shops that survive and thrive are owned by savvy business owners first and archery enthusiasts second. Passion and enthusiasm for archery is secondary to success. It's business acumen and marketing skills (learned or God-given) that are critical to success of any business but especially so in archery.

My .02 cents.
13.) Pa bowhunter - 11/07/2014
I love small shops when I can get what I want/need, I have found that if you want apparel you need to hit the big box stores as far as hunting goes, I try to buy all my archery stuff from small local shops, I have always said it is not worth saving $50.00 on a bow to loose the personal service you get from a small shop.

Now when it comes to fishing I mainly fly fish and will always go to my local shop first, when I head to a new area I find out where the local fly shops are before I go as fly patterns and hatches change from river to river or even sections of river, so when it comes to the patterns hatch times and just great local information you just cant put a price tag on that..
14.) Deerminator - 11/07/2014
Draft beer;
Not Students:beer:
15.) Swamp Fox - 11/10/2014
Thanks for the comments!

16.) ARCHERXP - 11/11/2014
I've had both good and bad experiences in both big box stores and mom/pop shops.

The places that get my business aren't just about their expertise but their ability to build relationships.

I had one hunt where I left my broadheaded arrows on accident and the big box store employee who became a close acquaintance of mine left the store and met me halfway to bring me broadheads.