As some readers may recall from a recent letter to the editor, I haven’t been particularly kind to national supermarket chains of late. But just to demonstrate that I give credit where credit is due, especially during this season of goodwill, this is a story about local service.
What is the difference between purchasing at a national chain and buying locally? Well, I think it’s the difference between the proverbial runaround and neighbours who genuinely care about your business. Over the years, my wife and I have made many purchases from West End Electronics — stereos, cameras, TVs, you name it. Our philosophy is quite simple, and applies whether you’re shopping at Belbin’s, Home on Water, or Alpine Country Lodge: if something is not quite right, they’ll make it right, no hassle. I personally don’t believe that this can be said of the big-box stores, where customer satisfaction means flogging extended warranties at ridiculous prices.
So when our CD player mysteriously died 24 hours before our Christmas party, I was a bit miffed. The unit hasn’t seen that all much use. It might be something I’m doing wrong. So, I simply unplug the player from the amplifier and next morning my wife drops by West End to explain (not complain — there’s a big difference). There were no questions asked. No paperwork — just name, address and telephone number. No concern as to when the unit was purchased or whether or not we have the bill. Nothing has to be sent away. But our party is mentioned: their technician will look at it as soon as he is available.
Next morning when we are doing the usual pre-party chores, cleaning, baking, etc., the doorbell rings. The president of West End Electronics, Waldo Scharwey, is standing at the door in the pouring rain with a CD player wrapped in bubble paper.
“I heard you were caught in a bit of a bind,” he explained, “and thought you could use a loaner for your Christmas party tonight.”
Now, I need to impress upon everyone reading this that I don’t really know Mr. Scharwey, except for seeing him often behind the counter. So next time you head out to Stavanger or Kelsey Drive, ask yourself: “If something goes wrong with my purchase, will these stores really care?”
Buy local. You’ll be glad you did.