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Shopping small versus big- Mom and Pop vs. Big Box Stores

In the town that I grew up in, we really only had Mom and Pop type stores; they were mostly all locally owned (even the banks) and we did not have any “big box” stores to speak of other than a single K-Mart. So whenever we needed something, be it from the hardware store, the dry cleaners, an electronic part or gas for the car, we always headed down to “Jim’s Gas Station” or “Bob’s Hardware”. Now that I am, ahem, older and live in a major metropolitan nightmare of a place, everywhere I am able to shop tends to be big box stores (except Wal-mart, I don’t step inside there on principal alone).

I thought I would write a few of my thoughts on shopping at both types of stores, and then open it up for conversation..not like anyone actually reads this, but if you do, I would like to hear what your thoughts are on this!

Advantages to Mom and Pop type stores:

  • Smaller, more personal shopping experience
  • You can get help when you need it instead of waiting for someone to notice you standing there looking confused
  • Parts can be ordered for you without someone complaining about having to do so
  • Owner might know you after a while, making shopping there a conversation as well as a buying spree
  • Employees usually offer better customer service in small shops where they feel taken care of by customers and owners alike
  • Might already be one in your town
  • Disadvantages to Mom and Pop type stores:

  • Less of a selection than in big box stores
  • Things tend to cost a little more due to the fact that they don’t buy 1,000,000 lightbulbs at once
  • They might not be open late or on Sundays, hampering your ability to get what you need when you need it
  • Owner might know you after a while, making going in there a chore if you don’t like him or her!
  • More driving around town to different stores because no one store carries everything you need
  • Advantages to Big Box stores:

  • Giant Selection of everything under one roof
  • Most things are cheaper, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot
  • These stores normally open earlier, close later and are open on holidays
  • Can save money on gas by only going to one store instead of several
  • Anonymous shopping is good for buying embarrassing products (I remember buying condoms when I was younger where the pharmacist knew me…when I thought that was embarrassing!)
  • Disadvantages to Big Box stores:

  • Too many people, too crowded at all hours
  • Difficult to get help when you need it (this is why I do not step foot in Home Depot)
  • Employees normally don’t give 2 cents if you are there
  • Sometimes they force out smaller businesses, which in my eyes is not a good thing
  • I feel its just making a bunch of rich guys richer; I would rather support someone struggling to keep his store open
  • Now, I realize I am prejudiced against big box stores; no one has to point it out to me. As much as I like to save money on certain things, I would gladly pay a little more to have an employee or owner be happy to see me as a customer, help me when I need help, and not give me blank stares when I ask where something is located in the store. But I know that the economics of this world is resulting in giant stores taking over, selling everything from underwear to lawnmowers to groceries to cell phones. Whether this is a good thing or not for the future remains to be seen, but I prefer shopping at a smaller store..I like to keep people in business as much as I like not supporting some practices at big box stores I don’t agree with. If you had a choice in the matter, would you choose to shop at small locally owned stores or do you prefer the anonymous experience of a giant store that has everything?

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    Comments (11)

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    1. Missy says:

      Whenever possible, I will make the effort to shop and spend money at an independently owned place of business. I like it when the employees recoginize me and take time to help me with a selection. Unfortunately, the availability of “independents” and “mom and pop” stores are in short supply in my area.

      I try to avoid Walmart and Target Super Stores if possible. It’s not that I dislike the store itself, I just get overwhelmed with the selections and I tend to spend way too much money before I can get out of the door.

    2. Carnival of Shopping #7…

      At the risk of spurring an SEC investigation, I always back-date my New Year’s resolutions, so as we begin 2007, I’m happy to announce that I have acheived my 2006 goals of not losing any weight, not riding a bike……

    3. david says:

      I’m with you Missy, it is nice when you walk into a store and the person behind the counter recognizes you. In fact, the coffee place we used to go to was a nice quiet small one that just closed because Starbucks bought them out and closed them, of course. So now we are left with less choices. I hope we can find another independent within walking distance!

    4. ispf says:

      [...] The post by David Shopping small versus big- Mom and Pop vs. Big Box Stores at My Two Dollars, is on a similar theme but is more general in nature and looks at the advantages and disadvantages of independent stores Vs large superstores. [...]

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    8. Florad says:

      (I remember buying condoms when I was younger where the pharmacist knew me”¬¶when I thought that was embarrassing!)…

      I think buying condoms is quite embarassing. I would rather change my mind not to do it than buying a condom from a pharmacist who knows me, especially if he is my dad :)

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