Thomas Hawk on brick and mortar stores

Thomas Hawk has a nice post about brick and mortar stores versus buying online. I’m one of those people who gets a mild warm and fuzzy feeling when buying locally, but it’s often either not economically viable, or else the moral value is spoiled by awful service. This last is a real issue in Berkeley, where we have a lot of stores that are staffed by really, incredibly knowledgeable, passionate people who are also utter asshats. I often have to weigh these qualities carefully before deciding whether to shop at one of the local establishments.

The Other Change of Hobbit is a good example of a place where the people behind the counter can sometimes be aggravating, but not all the time, and the specialized knowledge they have is just stunning. The staff of Comic Relief, on the other hand, almost invariably induce a desire to just kick them all in the groin and never read comics again. Games of Berkeley is often almost as bad. The eerie and unnerving but undoubtedly gifted staff of Crixa are a related case.

As for Looking Glass Photo — I’ve been shopping there pretty regularly lately for film-related stuff, and I sometimes buy bags there, because it’s worth paying a premium to be able to try them on first. They’re often very busy, and not super-efficient, but when you can get time with the staff, they’re very helpful. I will probably never, ever buy a camera there, though; just can’t justify it to my budget.

While I can understand how the whole “shop local” people might be disgruntled over the internet invading their jobs and space, the best way to compete and handle it is to truly offer superior service and support, not insult customers, provide bad service or give lip service responses.

Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection: A Bad Service Experience at Tall’s Camera


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