Well, there was a blizzard in New England last night. Here’s a picture from Kittery, Maine. The sign, if you can’t read it, says Warren’s Lobster House.
We watched this blizzard form and approach for about a week prior. We tracked every twist and turn of green blobs, white, blue and pink clumps surging on a collision course across the national weather radar map. On Christmas Day, my brother and I bent over NECN’s weather pages watching and giggling like — well — siblings on Christmas Day. Blizzard on the way.
Later, a day or so later, NECN weather would air the photo I took (above) on TV, as the storm actually blew in. Neat!
NECN is a smaller news outlet in New England. But it’s the one everyone I know watches. Smaller, sometimes, is better.
Surprising, don’t you think? Why were sales good?
My brother’s experience this fall and winter has been that consumers are finally sick of saving $100 by buying online or in a warehouse style sporting goods outlet — but getting the wrong equipment and therefore not saving anything. Kind of a duh moment but: consumers are realizing that a purchase is a waste of money if we don’t use it or if it’s not right for us.
I understood this trend toward smaller, wiser, more attentive shops. Places where the staff actually uses and cares about the products. Because I’ve started frequenting these shops too. I’m spending a little more to buy from people who understand how I’m going to use the thing and what features will suit my form and my uses. Also, I want the staff to be useful after the sale, to answer questions or otherwise follow up.
As consumers, we once again want the expertise, the counsel of folks who live with what they sell. It’s more expensive, but better value. Finally, New Englanders are remembering the difference.
In the long run, value funds itself.
I used to think that was malarky. I thought that with the internet and my broad access to all media, I could research any subject all by myself and decide on the matter.
But it turns out few of us have time/bandwidth to know all about skis, hair products, digital cameras, laptops, and the new line of Toyotas. Not beyond a superficial survey.
And let’s face it: we don’t respect the neutrality of media like we used to.
For my day job, I’m obligated to know tons about blogs, marketing, social media, industry, manufacturing, green regulations… that’s just a start. In my free time I seem determined to absorb everything ever produced about ancient Egypt and the vicinity. Then there are the many details of daily life that takes space: friends, family, gas prices, organic food quality, new clothes, on and on.
Few of us have time to keep up with our professional and personal expertise — and then really get our heads around the latest in — huh? — ski equipment. And yet the $1000 I will drop on snow-sport gear is a big investment.
If done correctly, the $1000 can provide a few years of fun. But if I get the wrong equipment, it won’t be fun. It’ll hurt, be cold, and make me ski like a platypus and feel crabby. And it’ll cost more in the long run — to make it sort-of right.
I have the benefit of my brother’s shop. But now I want a digital camera. And am going to use the same principal.
We — New Englanders in particular — are changing our buying habits back to the small, expert-driven shops, says my brother. I think he’s right.
Am curious to see if ski equipment sales drop off after Christmas or if the trend continues. And speaking of smaller shops doing an awesome job: kudos to Matt Noyes and the NECN Weather Team for excellent weather coverage during the blizzard of 2010.
And I’m not just saying that because they posted my picture. (Although I’m very pleased they posted my picture!) But this smaller-shop weather center is to weather what my brother’s sport shop is to skiing & cycling. Good things in small packages. Pointing to a trend to a return to an expertise-based model.
The Generalist is dead; long live the Expert instead.