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Commentary: The Business

Jeff Unger: La Vida Local

Play up your non-corporate identity — you may be surprised how powerful it is.

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ON THE WEEKENDS I do what millions of Americans do — play golf! But on this particular weekend I needed a new pair of sneakers. Off to the stores I went with all the other shoppers.

I live in a small suburban area north of Atlanta and don’t like to travel inside the perimeter to do my shopping. So I do most of my shopping in my area.

For those who have met me, you won’t believe it but I’m in the gym three to four days a week. I go through a pair of shoes every couple of months. I’m a guy of habit. Every time, I purchase the same shoe and style — New Balance 1406, extra wide.

I spent the evening before my shopping excursion looking online for sales on my sneakers. The New Balance website was selling my style for a 30 percent discount for $79.99. What a deal!

I printed out the information and headed to the New Balance store in my community. I made it very easy for the salesperson. Pointed to my shoes, gave him the size and asked, “Are these in stock?”

He left for the stock room and returned with my shoes and proceeded to check out. The clerk told me they were having a sale, and the price was just $99.99!

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What?

New Balance said the price was $79.99! Where was the sale price listed on the company website?

I figured he misspoke and reminded him of the special listed online. He informed me that his store was not a corporate store but an independent retailer of New Balance products. I was getting a little upset with him for not honoring the Web price.

But then he hit me with a sales line I won’t soon forget: “We are not part of New Balance and would hope you’d support a local independent retailer.”

I was sold!

I paid the price of $99.99 and was a satisfied customer and felt good about helping a local retailer.

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Maybe some of you are thinking that I’m crazy, and you would have made a big deal in the store loaded with customers over the $20. Maybe it’s not always about the cost; sometimes it’s about the support for your local stores.

Instead of dueling with your customers and the Internet over price, tell them to support their local retailers and support the local economy.

If I can be sold, I’m sure you can sell your customer.

Jeff Unger was the president and co-owner of B & N Jewelry (d.b.a. Alisa Unger Designs) and a long-time INSTORE contributor. He passed away in February 2019 after a valiant 10-year battle with cancer.

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