The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

Aug 19

Written by: Heather L. Sidorowicz
8/19/2014 2:15 PM  RssIcon

Joe gets up and goes to work. Joe comes home, and his wife asks him to run over to the local Walmart or Target to pick up some toilet paper. Joe complies and gets in his car and off he goes. At the store, he wanders through the electronic section, especially since he worked some overtime last week. There is a one-day sale on a 55-inch flat-screen TV, and Joe feels this is too good to be true. He throws the box into the cart next to the toilet paper, goes home, hooks it up, and is a happy guy.

No harm, right? Joe got a great deal, or at least he feels he did.


Not shopping local = less money stays local
What ripple effect is set into play by this simple purchase of a flat screen from a big box store or a quick click online? We seem to be less and less cognizant of our purchase actions. According to the 3/50 Project, “For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online, and nothing comes home.”

Like your local village, area, or city? Then it needs to be supported. Each time you click online for something you can get locally, another entrepreneur dies. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, yet if we as a society do not begin to take responsibility for our actions, we’ll end up like the drones from the movie Wall-E all shopping and being led by the “Buy and Large” companies of the world.

Not shopping local = less support
When Joe wants to add on a soundbar to his TV do you think he can go back to the big-box store for advice? Sure there may be someone around available to take his money, but do they care? They do not. Maybe I am not giving Joe enough credit, and he is able to figure out that he should buy the same brand soundbar and television set. But then the remote does not work. Who to call then? The 800-number with someone who reads off a sheet making 18 cents per hour?

I had a woman call last week informing me she purchased an Emerson television set from us and needed to know how to switch inputs. We have never sold Emerson, which I told her; she tried to convince me that we did. I asked for her name so I could look her up in our system, to which she replied, “Why?”

At this point, I offered her a service call to fix the issue of which (shockingly) she did not want to pay for, and so she hung up on me. I bet that we, as custom integrators, could go on and on about people not only looking for free advice and information, but those that get drastically upset when we do not provide it. These are the same people who will purchase their equipment elsewhere and then ask you to support their kid’s baseball team with a donation request. It is preposterous and is a regular event.

Not shopping local = you are changing the world one click/purchase at a time
We live in an instant gratification society. I want a TV now, and I can drive to the local big box store to pick one up—now. The average person only replaces their TV every seven years. This means for me to capture that next purchase I need to wait almost a decade. This is bigger than TVs; this is bigger than if you have a showroom or do not have a showroom; this is our great country that will forever be changed by the actions of the oblivious masses.


Make a different and spread the world. Use your social media outlets to let the public know; tell them to wake up! Let them know they can pay the same prices for better service and then the school system, roads, and their home area will be a better place. Then make sure you, my fellow business owners/workers, are out there supporting the local economy, too. Then tell your kids what the differences between corporate and local are and why they matter.

Be the change.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.

6 comment(s) so far...


Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

Heather I generally read your columns (blog was not in my vernacular) because they're well written, articulate and often spot on--especially this one. Would you mind if I quoted or outright plagiarized some of it? I've run a local business 42 years that is now hanging by its nails and defying gravity but for how much longer?

By Steve Suderman on   8/19/2014 4:25 PM

Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

Nicely stated! Thank you.

By Mark Giovannetti on   8/19/2014 8:13 PM

Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper


Are you looking to quote or "plagiarize" to your clients? Sure, go ahead... Share the link too!

Thank you for reading!


By Heather on   8/20/2014 10:29 AM

Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

As a manufacturer, we don't have quite the same issue, but we can relate. How often does someone chose to buy b/c it is $5 cheaper? They fail to notice that it was made in China and not in Indiana! What happens if the product fails? Are replacement parts available? Can their service representative speak English? As a society we are often so focused on price that we forget about value! I enjoyed reading this, Heather.

By Amy Madden on   8/20/2014 10:45 AM

Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

Although I don't disagree with your basic premise, let me share a slightly different view. The free market (which I'm sure you believe in) basically says that money will find its way to the most efficient/valued place if unhindered by outside forces like regulation, etc. My problem with the 'Buy local, Walmart is Evil' ideology (and I'm not saying that you believe that) is that it assumes that the locals are delivering more value to the consumer.
Although I do support buying locally, far to many local stores operate from the belief that because I'm local/I exist, customers should support me - I find that very few of them deliver the value of better service, knowledge and assistance that justifies a higher price. We as local businesses, need to deliver a better value and experience, and then implore customers to honor that with their dollars!!!

By Chris Kangis on   8/21/2014 9:16 AM

Re: The Slippery Slope of Buying TVs and Toilet Paper

I agree that many small local dealers have failed to provide a convincing argument of why to buy local. This is due to the fact that many small local businesses have not reinvested in themselves. It's difficult for customers to take many local businesses seriously if the businesses themselves do not present themselves as a serious contenders. Wanting people to shop local for local-sake is akin to retail charity.
On the other hand, many big- box national stores have become expert at misleading customers about their value proposition. The truth is simple. Many communities, employees, and customers are less well off as a result of the 'invasion' of the big-box business model.
Let this be a call to arms for all local businesses. Our competitors have seen our weaknesses as small, local business, and they have used these weaknesses
against us. The opportunity is there for small local businesses to do the same. Reinvest, reinvent, and reposition. Fight them where they are weak. And don't be afraid to tell your customers about it!

By Kevin Sawler on   8/21/2014 1:10 PM

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