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Like a lot of people over the last several months, we’ve not been in much of a spending mood. We cut out some things that we judged non-essential, and one of those things was espresso. After several espresso-less months, however, my wife decided espresso was more essential than we thought. She headed to the local store (as far as we know, the only local store) that carries Illy espresso-ground coffee. That is, they used to carry it. They’d cut back themselves, no longer stocking low-margin, low-profit, or seldom-purchased items.

I should backtrack to let you know that this store is where my wife discovered Illy. The store contains (or used to) all kinds of “exotic” foods and wine, kitchen furnishings, furniture, and other household furnishings. We went there only on rare occasions, until my wife discovered Illy. Then she shopped there at least monthly, and she usually bought a lot more than espresso, which was the initial reason for the trips to the store. We’ve bought furniture there, which is not a low-margin item. I don’t mean to suggest furniture was an impulse purchase, but my wife’s familiarity with the store (we drank a lot of espresso) was a big part of the reason we bought furniture there.

Now, there’s not a huge reason for us to go to that store. No doubt we still will on occasion, but not monthly. Since we don’t know of another place to buy Illy locally, we’re looking for it online. Another local piece of business migrating online.

I can understand the store’s need to reduce it’s inventory to best-selling items where possible. But if you’re in the business of providing a range of exotic stuff, aren’t you shooting yourself in the foot (or your brand in the heart) by cutting back to best sellers? Isn’t that Albertson’s business model?

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2 Responses to Hunkering Down: Local Business’ Dilemma

  1. Ray Gulick says:

    Thanks for your comment, Tom: baby/bathwater is right.

  2. Tom Gray says:

    Too many businesses fail to consider what makes them unique, what gives them character and sets them apart. Accordingly, without this knowledge, they’re likely to throw the baby (their uniqueness) out with the bathwater (unnecessary overhead). Do your store a favor, print your post and send it to them along with a list of the expenditures you’ve made as a result of their stocking illy. It might just be the eye-opener they need to realize what their real value-proposition lies.

    twittering in bursts http://www.twitter.com/tomjgray