That is a question brick and mortar stores have to face every year and none more so than during the holidays. Granted, the overwhelming number of purchases are still made in brick and mortar stores (roughly 90% of retail sales are still made in brick and mortar stores, though this number is projected to increase by 14% by 2021). Given that many customers are motivated by price and stuff really is cheaper generally online and, unfortunately, most of our customers are not autistic enough to willingly spend more at their Friendly Local Game Store, just to keep us in business. We need to give them reasons to spend money at the brick and mortar store, rather than online. So here are 5 good reasons to shop locally:
1. Immediacy—when the customer buys a product at a brick and mortar store, they get to use it immediately. When the exception of digital media and PDFs, everything else purchased online takes time to reach them, anywhere from a day to a month or better. I was just checking out a Kickstarter produced by a local publisher and backers will not receive the game until next March. Even modeling miniatures with a 3D printer takes several hours to complete
2. Finding New Stuff—Despite the vast amount of products available for sale online, in general customers don’t find new product online. They are 3 times more likely to find a new product that delights them in a physical store than in an online one (and don’t worry a lot about showrooming. According to Harris, 70% of customers webroom while only 45% of them showroom).
3. Reinvestment —More of their money stays in the local community when a customer shops at a local store. If a customer spends $100 at a local store, 68% stays in the local community while if they shop at a chain store, only 45% stays in the community to generate jobs and, of course, if they buy online, none stays in the local community . In addition, there is a multiplier effect when that money is spent in the community, meaning that money circulates to other business such as office supply stores, janitorial services etc. . In a smaller community like here in Carbondale or London Kentucky, the multiplier effect is only around 1 or 2 times before the money leaves the community but in a more metropolitan area such as Seattle, St. Louis or Chicago, you are looking at a multiplier of 7 to 10 times. And, of course, the sales taxes go back into such things as sidewalks, police, fire safety, sewers ect.
4. Stronger Communities—Research shows that the more local businesses a community has, residents have stronger civic ties and are more likely to participate in civic affairs. Economic concentration among businesses leads to a monolithic local power structure and civic apathy. A larger number of locally owned businesses is positively correlated with participation in local elections and civic activism, helping to counter the decline in civic engagement in the US over the past several decades.
5. More Jobs—Local businesses create more jobs for local people. Maybe it indicates inefficiency, but local retailers create twice as many jobs as Amazon does for the same amount of revenue. Spending money at the FLGS helps maintain jobs, both there and in the large community.
You and I and every other game (and comic) shop owner know this. The trick is getting the word out to the general population. The healthier local businesses are, the healthier the communities their customers live in are, as well.