A week ago and on Thursday we had something very strange happen. A bride and groom came in on October 31 and asked for free Save the Dates if she spent $250 on her invitations; we politely told her no. She returned this past Thursday and asked if we would give her 30% off her invitations, and did not even offer to buy the Save the Dates from us. When I refused she asked if I wanted her business, and I assured her I did. She was shocked at my refusal to give her the discount, told me she would get her invitations at a national chain where should could use coupons (print your own) and that she was truly disappointed that I would not work with her.
Now we were offering her invitation on a heavy cardstock (110 lb) with thermography printing (raised) in the United States through one of our albums. What she was going to buy is thin (80 lb) cardstock printed in China that she would have to take home and personalize on her home computer. Now, there is nothing wrong with printing yourself, but she truly was not comparing products of equal value so why should the price from us be cheaper for something better?
One thing we have prided ourselves on is an ability to provide something in everyone’s budget – this was the first time this was not the case.
What was so upsetting to us was not the loss of the sale, but that the bride came in with an expectation that we would give her either something for free or at a very steep discount.
I wonder, would she go into the national chain store and ask for the same type of gift or discount? My guess is no. The remarkable thing is that this bride is not unlike others who patronize local retailers. There is a small group of people who want the added service and experience of a local retailer (great customer attention and detail, unique merchandise), but the prices of a large discount chain. Local retailers often have larger expenses than large retailers. We buy 100 of something, not 1 million, we provide health care to our staff when some large retailers do not, we provide paid vacation and quality of life schedules, while many large retailers do not. Please, do not get me wrong, large retailers truly have their place in our society and economy, but so do small retailers. Let’s not ask the small retailers to do things that may make them disappear.