Monday, November 16, 2009

5 Questions About Supporting Local Businesses

What does this have to do with sports?

Yesterday I headed up PCH like I do every Sunday morning to hit my favorite surf spot. When I was almost there, I realized that I had left my surf booties at home. Knowing the spot I was going to was covered in a rocky bottom I was in for a rough time if I didn't stop and pick some up or drive back home and get mine. I wasn't far from a surf shop so I decided to stop.

I found a new pair at Zuma Jay's and had the pleasure of a conversation with Jay himself and his daughter. I should clarify - it was a pleasure to speak to them but what they had to say was not pleasurable at all.

Zuma Jay's has been around since the mid-1970s. Ever since I knew what surfing was, I knew what Zuma Jay's was. Everyone that surfed in or around the area from County Line to Venice and beyond were well aware of Zuma Jay.

So what's the problem? Well, this local brand used to have a few locations and was quite busy. Now, the "big box"-type retailers are pushing out the smaller, independent shops like this one. A local icon was now barely staying open. Surprise, surprise.

This is no different than most any other industry where the Wal-Marts, Dick's, Shoe Pavilions, and Golfsmiths are taking over. Small skateboard shops are replaced by Sport Chalet. The local clubmaker is out of business because a Roger Dunn moved close by.

Sure, I like a good mall or big store every so often but I really love the small, family-owned shops too. Zuma Jay's prices are as good and sometimes better than the big chains around town. In fact, many of the small shops like Zuma Jay's or Rider Shack have very competitive prices and something that the big stores can never give - personalized service. When I go to Rider Shack they remember me and each of my surfboards that I have purchased or brought in to repair. They even let me bring my giant bloodhound in the store with me to shop! I'll bet Jay will remember me also. In fact, I decided that I need to make more regular stops to make purchases at Zuma Jay's.

Now the questions - these are for you. Well, they're probably rhetorical but I wanted to get them out there:

1. What independent shops in your local area cater to your sport?

2. Do you patronize the independent, local shops more than big box retailers?

3. Which type of shopping experience do you prefer?

4. What would stop you from shopping at an independent shop?

5. Wouldn't you like to keep the variety out there and have the smaller, independent shops stay in business?

Check out my update on November 30 to this post here.


Becky Leetch said...

Very intriguing post today, Apryl. Of course, I have to plug my favorite, Girl in the Curl surf shop in Dana Point. In an area that is/was "Male" focused on surf gear, Mary Hartmann decided that, as a female surfer herself, she needed open a shop that was just for the female surfer. She's been there for about 10 years, and is now going through the lean times like everyone else. When it comes to surf gear, I go to Girl in the Curl.

I might also add that I've lived in my area for 30 years, so I do know the local spots to hit up.

When it comes to what I prefer, I actually prefer both (big box and local retailer). My local retailer usually has the small odd's and ends things that you can't find anywhere else and you do get the personalize service. However, on larger, more expensive items, I like to watch my dollar. Like right now, I'm eyeballing a Nikon D3000. Black Friday sales on this camera are already showing it in the mid-$400 range; Mid-$500 with the extra lens. So ya, for this, I'm watching my dollar and will wait for the best possible price before getting the camera.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Thanks Becky! Yeah, I am on Girl in the Curl's email list and will support them as much as possible, especially when I am in your neck of the woods.

I like the big box for certain larger purchases also. Good luck in finding your camera!

Lindsay said...

I try to support local shops. Every six months or so I buy running shoes from Dick Beardsley's Running Co., a local running store. I like that they can help me find exactly what I need and they know a lot about the products. I do shop at the larger chain stores when I feel like blending in more. I don't like to be watched or talked to when I'm shopping unless I have specific questions. When I'm buying clothes I usually go to the bigger stores.

I buy my dog and cat food from a local natural pet foods store rather than shopping at Petco or PetSmart.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, when you feel like getting in and out without help a big store is the way to go.