SHOP TALK: Why NOT support local businesses?
Whether it be for batteries, shoes, or hockey equipment, shopping has changed dramatically in the past decade.
It’s hard to remember what it was like before the Internet. With all the options available now, you can literally spend hours searching dozens of e-retailers, list out the positives and negatives, availability, shipping costs and time in transit, sales tax, selection, the list goes on and on. Say you do finally buy, now the gamble begins. Will it arrive on time, be exactly what you wanted, the right size or specs? If something goes wrong, the process of returning it starts. More waiting, more uncertainty. When it’s all said and done, did you even save any money to begin with?
I, like the customers who shop with me, want to know I’m getting be best possible price when I’m going to make any purchase. The unknown of if that will happen is enough to make any simple purchase a headache. With the slew of Internet hockey dealers out there today, buying hockey equipment at the best price might seem like a big giant mess. Luckily after reading this month’s segment, I think you’ll find it’s a lot easier than you might think to get the best price AND the best of everything else.
The major brands you all know, use, and love have fairly simple and direct pricing rules and guidelines for the dealers who offer their products, similar to what you see with most electronics brands. This is done to make things easier for the smaller retailers so they can keep the doors open. The cost of providing you services like skate sharpening and repairs, proper fitting and knowledgeable advice, among other things, is much higher than what the big warehouse Internet dealers have to handle. This also gives smaller dealers the ability to offer whatever prices they want in store, but like the Internet guys, stores can only advertise at those set prices.
These rules state that online and storefront dealers may only advertise or list a product at or above a certain dollar amount for the products initial life cycle (usually 10-14 months on average). This is why when you’re looking at most hockey retail websites, you’ll notice all the prices are identical down to the penny. Many sites will offer “site wide” discounts, but as you will always find, those discounts don’t apply to any current model products. So “site wide” ends up being about 10 percent of the site. That puts you back to square one. Another one they like to use is “regular price” versus “sale price” or “our price.” If you look closely, the “sale price” is the same one you’ll find that product everywhere else.
So knowing all this information on pricing, it seems like a no brainer that you can at least cross pricing off the list of things you need to check when shopping for hockey equipment. From there, your purchase will be determined by the things that really should matter, like the service you receive in fitting, the product-knowledgeable staff of where you’re shopping, and unlike online ordering, you get to walk right out of the store with your purchase instead of waiting for your items to get packed and shipped. Another factor in buying locally is in the event there’s a warranty issue, you’re able to walk back into that same store and have your issue dealt with on the spot. Most retailers will only cover warranty issues on items purchased from their location.
The biggest bonus, though, is knowing you’re supporting a community that supports you and the game you play. Here in Arizona, both Behind The Mask and Coyotes Ice Sports are intricately involved in the sport on a local level. Between the two businesses, there’s endless support of tournaments, events, learn to play programs, first step programs and team fundraisers. At the end of the day, the choice to buy locally is a win-win for everyone!
Nick Boyarsky serves as the head of team sales for BTM and the manager of the Chandler location.