This week's Yated has a letter from a wife who would like to support Orthodox owned businesses, but is tired of the business practices. As much as people yell and scream about our halachic obligation to patronize Jewish owned businesses, even if it costs a bit more (and all too often, the price differential will quickly relieve the consumer of any such obligation), I still maintain that these businesses need to become more competitive and diversify their clientele. As families find their budget increasingly squeezed, if you don't run a competitive business, you will see less business.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
There was talk a while ago in the Readers Write column of purchasing products mainly in heimishe owned businesses and the like. I tried to commit myself to doing this, yet I was a bit troubled by a phenomenon that kept recurring in some (maybe even many) heimishe supermarkets or stores. This includes some of the upstate supermarkets as well.
Where are the prices? Where are the signs displaying that one product is cheaper than the next or individual price tags on the packages?
How can a mother or anyone go shopping if she cannot compare one product to the next in terms of price?
Some stores say, “We have an in-store scanner,” or, “Ask the cashier.” So every time I want to compare the price of a product I have to run to the scanner or cashier?! Who has the time for that?
I walked into a food store recently and began shopping, but I couldn’t decide what to buy - because there were no prices shown! I was approached by the owner who asked me, “Can I help you? What are you looking for?” I answered, “I am looking for prices.” The storeowner looked at me and didn’t know what to say. I just left and shopped elsewhere.
I am a cash-paying customer, and there are many like me who would like to continue patronizing Jewish groceries and stores. However, if this keeps up, we will have to patronize the stores (heimish or otherwise) that have prices on or near their products in order to save money in these trying times.
Business owners who are looking to improve their lot need to study the market they are in. Besides the suggestion above about clearly marking prices, here are a few more:
- Improve customer service. Here is a personal example: I recently called a certain out of the way kosher grocery that carries a product that is very competitively priced to find out if it was in the refrigerator case, as I have made the drive before only to find out they are out of stock. The lady answering the phone told me if I wanted to find out, I would need to come in the store. Never mind that her phone is about 20 steps away from where the product sits. I ended up taking my business to a regular grocery store that offers some great coupons for large orders which brings me to just about the same price on this product and while I'm there I can get everything else, as well as use my (double) coupons.
- Put your advertisements up on your website or on a community list serve before your sale starts. You may have specials, but if I don't find out about it until your sale is finished, I'm not going to shop in your store. I make a list for the week and decide where I am going. You need to draw me into your store by letting me know what you are offering. I don't have time or patience to drop in your store to find out what you have on special.
- And, I'm still waiting for the drive-by window. I don't care to bring my kids into cramped kosher markets. Shopping in the regular market is a pleasure with the wide aisles and fireman carts that hold the attention of my kids. Walking into most kosher stores makes my blood pressure rise.