A small retailer makes a bold move against big chains
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
A recent ad I heard on the radio from a Massachusetts liquor store caught me off guard in its stunning candor-as-a-business tack.
Atlas Liquors, with three stores, loves to tout that they’ve been family-owned since the end of prohibition. Most of their folksy spots tell you about whatever special they are running.
This ad was different.
“Ever travel and notice that so many cities look the same? Strip malls, box stores, huge chains. It’s almost formulaic the way some of these places look — like if there’s a Petco, you can guarantee there’ll be a Panera in the same plaza.”
Whoa! They named names.
“Boston’s always been a wonderfully diverse city with tons of neighborhoods, unique from one another. But lately, it feels as if we’re losing that charm. Pockets of the city that were once home to small independents are being reconfigured. With soaring costs, it’s more and more challenging for us independents to be successful.
“When you’re next running your errands, think about the difference it makes to our retail landscape when you support the independent retailer vs. the box store or a massive chain. As third generation owners, my brothers and I are keenly aware that there are many places you can shop and we’re hoping that the importance of supporting smaller independent retailers like us here at Atlas will resonate with you.”
I’ve seen lots of techniques employed to steal business away from chains, but never “because they have no soul and are destroying what made your neighborhood likable” before. The ad never even mentions prices, and I’m guessing because with giant “high touch” liquor chains like Total Wine popping up all over my fair city lately, the implied notion is that you will, indeed, pay a few pennies more at Atlas.
Finally, Small Business Saturday wasn’t mentioned because, if you like having local small businesses, you’re going to have to shop there more than one day a year. And in an age when so much seems out of the control of our individual hands, that is one thing we can absolutely effect — directly.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should local retailers be more direct in spelling out alleged community disruptions caused by supporting national chains? What risks do independents face in aggressively bashing national chains?