Survivor: Salem, Oregon
They are a tribe of survivors.
For over 50 years, Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest, Cooke Stationery, Jackson Jewelers, Les Newman’s, Saffron Supply Co., Olson Florist, Court Street Lunch and Whitlock’s Vacuum and Sewing Center have continued operating their businesses in downtown Salem, Ore. even as the big boxes and others have taken their best shot.
According to the Statesman Journal, the key to survival for all of these businesses has been a willingness to change to better serve customers.
For Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest, it meant “morphing from a department store to a fabric store to a quilting shop.”
For Cooke Stationery, it has meant making more sales calls to business accounts and counting less on walk-in business.
Jackson Jewelers has meant hiring technical experts and providing a level of service that chain stores and e-tailers can’t match.
Clearly, the ability to adapt will continue to be a requirement for these independents moving forward. Rising costs for employees and the competitive pressures of the marketplace are just two of the factors Salem’s independent retailers deal with on a daily basis.
“Everyone wants $50,000 a year plus retirement and benefits,” said Barbara Thommen, of Clyde’s Key, Lock & Safe Service, a family run business. “You just can’t do it. And customers right now are very price-conscious. We’re working hard for what we get.”
Moderator’s Comment: What lessons can other independents learn from the survivors in Salem, Oregon? Are there lessons learned elsewhere that would serve
the Salem independents well? –
George Anderson – Moderator