Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun Toys in Cleveland, says business isn’t great, but he’s doing his best. One of the biggest obstacles he faces is online shopping.
That trend has become not just a trend, it’s become a fact of the matter. I’ve watched people do what they call show-rooming, where they come in with an application on their smart phone. They take a photo of my product and they check prices instantaneously. So we’ve seen quite a move toward that, and as a brick-and-mortar, it’s very frustrating.”
Presser tries to keep customers in the store and offline.
As my mother would say, “Kill ’em with kindness.” We’ve always been a niche business, and so a lot of product you just can’t readily find online. But you just want to hope that people understand that the local mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar store has been here for years, has supported the community. They’re your friends, they’re family members, their kids play soccer with your kids. And so we hope that has some sort of equitable value when it comes to buying an item.”
In addition to online competition, the ups and downs in China haven’t made things any easier.
When people hear that China is shutting down, they’re not sending out as much product … or the stock market is dropping precipitously, that has a psychological effect on our customers…. The China effect for someone like me … who sells you know toys, novelties, collectibles … we don’t feel that immediately. But there is the story you know, “the slow boat from China,” and so when we’re waiting for product and it just doesn’t come in, you know, it’s frustrating for our customers.
With the holiday season slowly creeping up, Presser says he’ll stay optimistic for the next few months. “Hopefully they’ll be good,” he says.
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