Why you should shop small, local businesses & STOP supporting big box department stores

Why you should shop small, local businesses & STOP supporting big box department stores

Everyone is looking for a good deal, but there are times when that hunt for the best deal isn’t really helping you or your community.  As a small business owner I’ll admit, this is a hot button for me. When I drive by Victorias Secret and see it packed full of people shopping and our cute little store has been dead all week, it’s frustrating.  Part of me wants to just throw in the towel and stop trying so hard, but the other part of me knows that we have what you need.  You just don’t know it yet.


For starters, we are a small LOCAL business.  That means, the benefits of you purchasing from a small business is that you’re telling your local elected officials that you don’t want a big box store on every corner.  Sure, wal-mart has rollbacks, but let’s face it, we’ve all seen the “people of wal mart” YouTube’s and no one wants a big box store in their backyard.  Let’s just say, small businesses attract a different type of customer and most people don’t mind a cute, quaint little business near their home or business.


Small businesses in your zip code collect taxes for YOUR zip code.  It’s not much, but it stays in your community and helps build the other amenities you love so much like paved roads, parks, etc.  Small businesses stay connected to other small businesses by participating in fundraising events for local charities and we support those things because we live here too!  


The next time you walk into a Big box store, look for help.  If you have a question or need help grabbing something off the top shelf, you might actually die of old age before you find anyone and if you are lucky enough to find a live person, it’s a gamble if that person can actually provide the help you need.  When you shop small we WANT to help you.  Your experience in our store is almost more important than what you actually buy.  If you get crappy service at a department store, you’ll still probably go back at the sight of the next great deal because the likelihood of running into the same employee twice isn’t really an issue.  At a boutique, you’ll see the same people over and over again. As a matter of fact, after your first visit, we’ll probably remember you thereafter and welcome you like we’ve known you for years.  How many times have you shopped at the same big store and walked into a friendly face that remembered you?  I’ll go out on a limb here and say it’s probably never happened.  At least it’s never happened for me.  I’ve purchased a few essential items from Costco for nearly 30 years and never once have I been greeted at the door by the same person twice.  It’s a sea of new faces every single time.  Before big box stores and rock bottom price hunting, we were a community of people that knew each other.  The butcher, the gas station, the grocer, the neighborhood mechanic, even the mail carrier.  That’s all a distant memory until that moment when you walk into a small business.  Give that some thought the next time you roll into WalMart or Target.


What about chains that carry their own unique brands?  You know, the ones that have all the same types of items that we carry at Bambolinas.  After all, there’s one of those chains in every city, but we all know that with mass production, quality can start to get worse, but the worst part is, the name has notoriety and they can charge higher prices because of that and studies show that you’ll pay it.  We trust branding even when it’s proven otherwise.  Until fairly recently, stores like Victorias Secret carried only their own label.  They built a retail giant on the image they created where women look flawless in their underwear.  It was brilliant, but it was a season that came to an abrupt end when the size 12 consumer couldn’t be fit in their line.  Like many retail giants, they knew when to make changes but those changes meant they’d be carrying brands that weren’t their own.  For many years, there have been wonderful bra manufacturers developing their products in the market but on a much smaller scale.  They distributed those products to boutiques and specialty stores like Bambolinas.  Instead of focusing on one brand, some stores wanted more of the market and they secured brands that had been in high end department stores for years.  Suddenly they’re size inclusive and boutiques across the country lost their corner in that niche market, forcing the mom and pop stores to compete with giant chains.  You can imagine how that looks now.  Bambolinas buys 50 bras to bring into the store and our newest competitor brings in the same bra but in a quantity in the thousands.  We cannot compete.  We have women come into

our shop just for the free bra fitting and buy nothing.  We take as much as an hour, making sure we fit each customer perfectly, serving complimentary cocktails, running back and forth for whatever you need. Then at the end, the customer pulls out their phone, grabs the bras they loved in their hour long fitting to confirm their online purchase and just like that, we lose the sale.  If you think this sounds too insane to happen, trust me, it happens all the time.  As a matter of fact, just yesterday I personally had a customer that came in around two weeks ago wanting a strapless bra.  She was very petite, like a 28” band and we had one line that she loved but needed the smaller size.  It was a cute, small banded bustier by Parfait.  Parfait is a smaller boutique brand, but they do have a strong presence online too.  I ordered the bra in two sizes, but Parfait has a minimum Purchase requirement of $500.  I bought $500 in new inventory just so I could buy two bras for one customer to try.  She came in last week to see why “her bra” that “she ordered” wasn’t in yet.  She didn’t pay for anything, which is contrary to our policy because I wasn’t sure the new bra would fit her.  When it did finally arrive she loved it but it was still a little big.  I offered to have our seamstress take it in for her and she quickly agreed.  The cost for the alteration is $30.  The bra is $66.  I rung her up for just the bra and her total was just about $70.  She paid with her card and then I told her I’d need to take specific measurements of her band and breast circumference.  We finished and I told her ii would give her a call when the seamstress was finished and she could pay the cost of alterations when she picked up her bra.  She immediately changed her mind, said it was too much to pay for an alteration and she asked for a refund. While demanding her refund, she informed me that she’d be going to none other than Victoria's Secret. As if to make sure I knew that she held no loyalty to us at all.  I didn’t over an hour and $500 to earn her business and my efforts failed.  Why?  Because it came right down to her wanting something for a rock bottom price.  In the 3 years we’ve been open, I’ve never once paid myself.  I just keep doing what I love, knowing that there are more consumers who want whatever offer than those seeking prices below market value. 

At Bambolinas, we really do try to earn your business, but we have to make a living too.  We may not be able to offer you the same discounts as our fierce competitors but that doesn’t mean we’re overcharging or that we are unaffordable.  


We have brands you cannot get at big stores.  As a small business, we LOVE other small businesses that manufacture intimates that only we can buy.  We have dozens of smaller brands that you can only find in smaller stores and every piece they make is filled with a passion for what they do.  The smaller manufacturers oversee their own production, which means you get exceptional quality and the best part is, they don’t charge so much that their products are unaffordable.  They actually want to make sure anyone can buy into their production.  They’re eager to share their products with you and when they work with small retailers, it’s a partnership.

Bambolinas is a small local business and we offer traditional bras & intimates and we hope you’ll give us a try and give us the chance to earn your business!


-The Retail Therapist

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