I like to think of myself as an optimist, generally speaking. I like to think that Midwesterners are a bit nicer to each other than other parts of the country. So when I hear cynical views repeatedly on twitter I take them with a grain of salt and just remind myself that we try to look on the bright side of things. But yesterday I had a somewhat unpleasant experience with a local card shop. You may have heard me vent about it. You also may have seen the unexpected backlash when I voiced my concerns. It really caught me by surprise and got me fired up enough to knock the dust off my blogging keyboard and get to it, so here we go!
I've been in the minority most of the time when it comes to standing up for the local card shop. Today there is more competition than ever before against your LCS. The gap in pricing continues to widen, as the market continues to flood with more and more product and LCS display cases get fuller and fuller, as they refuse to adapt to market value. Regardless, I have remained a loyal customer and usually don't mind paying a little extra for something, knowing it hasn't been opened/searched. Am I his biggest customer? Not by a long shot. Have I spent thousands over time? Definitely. So I didn't think it was a big deal when I called yesterday to find out the scoop on Panini Prizm jumbos.
Here is how it went down. "Hey [cardshop owner], did you get the new Prizm basketball jumbo packs in yet?" "Yes we did!" "Cool, how much are they per pack?" "We don't give out prices over the phone." "Oh." "Nope, but come down and we'll set up you with some." "Alright then....thanks."
Was I being unreasonable? Some of you thought so. Some of the responses I got were something along the lines of "Would you call Target ahead for wax pricing?" and "Customer service does not mean catering to your every whim." First of all, no I wouldn't call Target because blasters and loosies are generally the same price for every product for the last 5 years, and also I'm not driving 30 miles or making a special trip to Target just for cards. Nor does Target close at 6:00 PM, like the card shop across town does. Second, how does asking the price on ONE product equate to having every whim catered to? I don't expect special treatment, but a little common courtesy before I race across town to beat closing time to buy 3 packs of jumbos would be appreciated.
Now I know some customers can be a royal pain in the ass. Shop owners have to deal with a constant barrage of looky-lou's and people trying to sell 90's collections, or people calling to ask if they have the 16 commons they are looking for to fill their 87 Topps set. I also understand that the profit margin for card shops is razor thin and with the explosion of online group break sites, the pie is getting split up more and more. I may not be coming in to rip cases of Flawless, but aren't my hundreds/thousands of dollars still worth fighting for?
Any successful small business operator will tell you the key to success is building relationships and customer loyalty. If you can't beat the prices of the big boys how else will you survive? Oh yeah, I forgot. Many of you aren't.