Why A Small Shop Is Better Than a Chain Store

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a small, independently owned pharmacy. I know that’s quickly becoming a rarity, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been to the chain store pharmacies, and I have to tell you that I often leave feeling like less of a person than a dollar sign. In other words, my experience with the large chain pharmacies and other types of retail stores are that they’re usually impersonal and there’s room for improvement for the level of customer service.

What’s Better Small Shops?

When I go to the large pharmacies that are associated with a nation-wide store, there’s usually one–maybe two–people working in the pharmacy. So, inevitably, I’m waiting on a line to drop off my prescription. Once I get to the counter, no matter what the medicine, I’m told that I have to return in at least an hour, at which point something that should take a few minutes (and used to), becomes a multi-hour exercise. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’ve picked up a prescription, the medicine is for someone who is not feeling well and the sooner they get the medication, the quicker they will feel better. I don’t think that big pharmacies understand how vital quick-turnaround is to people.

When you return to one of the large pharmacies to pick up your prescription, you’re back online waiting to get to the single person who’s working the counter. And, even if you’ve arrived past the hour, you may be asked to wait some more, so hopefully, there will be a seat available for you.

However, when you go to an independent pharmacy, the experience is different and better. When I picked up my prescription recently, I waited FIVE minutes. About five or six professionals were working in the pharmacy, who were personable and made it a point to get to know me as a person and not a dollar bill. The person who waited on me also asked me if I preferred to have my prescription delivered, which is not typically a service available at the large stores in my area.

The Best Reasons to Patronize Small Business Owners

My experience with the pharmacy is but one example of why I prefer to patronize and do business with small shops and you should as well. One of the best reasons to go to mom and pop shops is because they provide people jobs. As I mentioned earlier, the larger chains don’t care if you wait in line for twenty minutes or more because their priority is not you, but their bottom line. However, because small stores understand that they have to differentiate themselves, they hire workers to provide excellent customer service. The Small Business Administration has reported that small businesses add more net jobs than do large companies.

There are other reasons to do business with small stores and shops.

Small businesses are not bureaucratic. Typically, if you’re doing business with an entrepreneur who owns a small shop, you’re dealing with the decision-maker. The larger the company, the higher the chances that your experience will be done to benefit the corporation–and not you, which includes bureaucracy. In other words, good luck finding a manager to speak to you if there’s a problem. But, with a small business, if you need special assistance or are not satisfied with a product or service, you’ll be able to speak with the decision-maker who can quickly make sure you’re happy.
Keeping it in the community. When you do business with a small store, more of the money you pay for products or services remain in your community. For instance, a study done for Chicago found that for every $100 spent at a small business in that city, $68 remained whereas when customers patronized chain stores, only $43 stayed in the community. Larger companies have to pay immense amounts of overhead, which means more of the revenue made is going to the corporate office.
Looking for Broader and Unique Products. If you want to purchase more products that are not the usual, if you patronize a small business, the chances are higher you will get to see a broader array of product offerings. As an example, before record players and records came back in style, small shops were selling them. These businesses were even selling record players when everyone was predicting the death of the vinyl record. It was after some time that the big box stores got in on the act and realized that people wanted to listen to recordings.
Personalized customer service. As was mentioned earlier, when you do business with a small shop, you’re a person and not a number. That means that when you keep going back to the store, the more you build a relationship with the people who work at the shop, the higher the chances are that you’re going to get service that is personalized to you. For instance, let’s say you take the time to chat with the pharmacist who takes the time to get to know you. If he or she knows who you are and your medical needs, don’t get surprised when someday that pharmacist makes a recommendation for a better medicine you should address with your physician. In other words, you’re doing business with real people who want to get to know you and service your specific needs.

Next time you’re thinking about going into one of the national chains, take a few minutes to stop into one of the smaller shops in your neighborhood. I bet you’ll discover better service, more diverse products and you’ll be making a positive contribution to a small business owner who’s hiring more people than the large chain store.

Corporate Welfare Destroys Jobs Long-Term

General Motors’ notice to shutter several plants reminds us that corporate welfare does not produce long-term sustainable businesses. It’s a band-aid and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ funds. Government could apply those funds to help retrain workers, assist them to find new jobs, and minimize loss of income during the transition to their new situations.

Businesses Create Wealth and Jobs

Business is the vehicle owners use to create jobs and provide incomes for employees and shareholders to become consumers and keep the economy growing. A firm must have the right people cooperating in the correct slots headed in the right direction. Its ability to pay its workers and shareholders comes from producing and selling machinery, equipment, goods, and services people want or need.

We should encourage business owners to pay their employees well, become profitable, retain profits, reinvest in the business, and pay dividends to their owners. But we shouldn’t bully firms to keep uneconomic plants open. If there is no market, there are no sales, no funds available. A structurally unsound business should close early while treating workers fairly and respectfully.

Corporate Welfare Destroys Jobs

Governments are not short of wealth destruction tactics. Thus, they give companies huge subsidies to “create jobs” or for other political reasons. They do not see that this is merely another major government-waste outlet. Sadly they do not examine results over time to see that their corporate welfare is anti-competitive and destroys jobs long-term.

Governments’ role is to create level conditions for firms to flourish. They must develop conditions amenable for businesses to want to operate in their jurisdictions. It is absurd and naive to believe bribing companies with handouts is more than a temporary fix. According to the Fraser Institute:

Between 1961 and 2013, the federal [Canada] department of industry disbursed $22.4 billion to businesses… The top 10 recipients received just under $8.5 billion, or 38 percent of all money disbursed… [M]any corporations or their parent companies that receive corporate welfare are anything but start-ups. Also, in many cases, cash-on-hand possessed by the company or parent company far exceeds the total original corporate welfare amount disbursed. This calls into question at least one justification for policy that allows subsidies to business-that taxpayer assistance is required to fill in for market failure and a lack of capital.

Some Blue Chip Companies Get Corporate Welfare

In the USA, corporate welfare recipients include Nike, Intel, Boeing. Indeed, it is outrageous how governments arbitrarily dispense taxpayers funds to large corporations without consultation or accountability. Why not use these funds to cut personal income tax? Here again is an example of complacent electorate allowing government waste.

In my experience in business in many countries, I saw several examples of corporate welfare, primarily because governments and unions did not want structurally unsound firms to close. Sadly, some of these firms received welfare payments for years but eventually closed.

Governments and the public need to realize structurally unsound businesses will not survive. Therefore, the best approach is an orderly closure early that includes retraining and relocating workers, where feasible. Encourage companies to close with utmost care and empathy for employees. The alternative of staying open provides false hope about the business’ future. If firms can survive only with financial aid from taxpayers, they have no future.

Corporate Welfare is Cronyism

Since corporate welfare strategies do not work over the long-term, why do governments continue them? The answer is obvious: Corporate welfare produces positive short-term political results. And most of all, ignorance leads the electorate to believe governments’ propaganda about using tax dollars to fund losing businesses. So, who will educate the public about business realities? To be sure, the government won’t. Thus, firms must take on this role although they start with a significant creditability gap. Sadly, a few greedy, self-serving CEOs, take excessive amounts from their firms in different forms.

History will show giving investment incentives to selected industries as Canadian and USA governments do is myopic. Indeed, Canada’s corporate welfare extends to aerospace, energy, agricultural, and automotive industries, yet with this massive support the auto industry is declining and will continue without more welfare. The alternative to corporate welfare is to eliminate special payments and incentives to businesses, eliminate corporate taxes, remove unnecessary regulations, and allow firms to grow and create jobs.