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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Keeping it Human: Independent Retail

Oscar Foulkes August 16, 2018 Keeping it Human No comments
When we save money by shopping online or by visiting a big box retailer, do we gain, or do we lose?

Yesterday I needed to visit the pharmacy. Actually, I’d tried the day before, but the queue at the back of my local Clicks was so long that I abandoned. Instead, the following day I adjusted my route slightly to drive past Zetler Pharmacy (Mill Street, Gardens). I could park in the street just beyond the entrance (so, no need to go through the whole parking garage thing), and best of all, there was no queue. Actually, the best part is that the entire experience had authentic human warmth to it. Plus, if what I wanted was not in stock, it would have been delivered to my home later in the day.

As I walked back to my car, I walked past Babu Footwear, which is as old-school a shop as the pharmacy. I’d been meaning to go hunting for shoe trees; on a whim, I walked in. I hadn’t been in the shop for a minute before the gent commented on the brand of shoe I was wearing. Impressive, considering that he’d only had a glimpse from the top (and doubly impressive, because I was somewhat unconscious to the brand side of things). I walked out a few minutes later with the required shoe trees, and my day enriched by yet another unharried human interaction.

The irony is that the shoes I was wearing had been bought at bargain price on a daily deals website. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that I would have bought them by conventional means at full price.

The Google search I’ve just done suggests that Dis-Chem stocks shoe trees at a fraction of the price I paid. This is most likely because their version has been sourced direct from a factory in China. Coincidentally, I could have dealt with the pharmacy requirement at the same time.

In fairness to Dis-Chem (and assuming there was a branch close to me), the interactions with staff wouldn’t have been terrible. They would just have been different in a subtle, but important way.

It’s very easy to default to the obvious shopping destinations. However, if we do too much of it we’ll end up driving good people out of business. It’s complicated …

As a ‘human experience practitioner’ I am perhaps overly sensitive to the human dimension. On the other hand, if corporates were more tuned to these things, there wouldn’t be any market for what I do.

What do you think?

The shops' exterior (pic: Google)

The shops’ exterior (pic: Google)

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