Here’s the message we’re sending to the “flatlands” during the holiday season:
We were watching Sacramento’s Channel 10 News on television on Monday night and, lo and behold, a Nevada City Chamber board member (who also was on the board of the now-defunct business improvement district) appeared to tout the benefits of buying online.
Jim McConnaughay, owner of Country Collectibles, on Broad Street, said it was getting rid of the physical store in favor of a virtual one. They expect to close the brick and mortar store by the end of January, a rumor that has been going around for a little while.
(There are more, similar rumors out there, I might add).
Jim cited all the costs that go with a “brick and mortar” store, including rent. No kidding. (The building where Country Collectibles was located was owned by Gary Tintle, a fellow Chamber board member).
I was surprised Jim, as a newly re-elected chamber board member, appeared on Sacramento television with this perspective; it doesn’t help our city’s cause much. (We’re upping our involvement in the chamber, meanwhile, donating a weekend in Lake Tahoe at the upcoming installation dinner to help raise money).
Country Collectible’s closure on Broad Street in Nevada City comes as JordanWood is closing its store on Mill Street in Grass Valley and going online only.
“JordanWood was a beautiful store, and they were active members of our downtown community,” wrote Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Howard Levine on Facebook.
We did buy a wonderful wooden advent calendar for our son at JordanWood this holiday season.
TV stations don’t dig deeper, but to succeed in a “mom and pop” retail business, you’re better off:
•Owning your own building, where you can control one of the biggest fixed costs.
•Providing a unique, local product. In my view, too many of our stores sell products that you can buy elsewhere, including on the internet.
•Provide outstanding customer service.
•You need to market and promote yourself outside our economic and cultural “cul de sac.” Our population is flat to declining. You need to draw visitors from the “flatlands.”
In truth, the competition is much stiffer online, and the marketing hurdles to differentiate yourself are greater. Though online is growing at a faster rate, the sales are small compared to “brick and mortar” sales.
Good luck to both stores in their online-only ventures.
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