In addition to the perceived convenience of online shopping, another reason consumers give for not shopping local is that it is “more expensive” to shop at a small business than it is to shop at a big box store or online. This is certainly not a new perception, and however false it might be, it is one that is persistent.
Sure, we have shared anecdotal information in the past about local products being less expensive than those found at national chain stores or online, but we decided to do somewhat of a more formal case study and run price comparisons on identical products from different retail outlets.
We decided to engage our friends at Bradford’s Hardware in this experiment as they have been an institution in Hyannis since 1892, sell a vast variety of products, and are representative of a lot of other businesses on the Cape. Additionally there is research that shows that consumers on average assume that independent hardware stores are 17% higher in price than their corporate counterparts.
So, we chose products at (complete) random, and obviously this list is not exhaustive, however it does illustrate the very important point that local does NOT always mean more expensive.
Comparing Bradford’s prices to those of national chain stores with locations in Hyannis:
- Keurig K15 Classic Series Coffee Dispenser
- Bradford’s price = $99.99
- Bed, Bath & Beyond price = $99.99
- Scott’s Turf Builder Fertilizer
- Bradford’s price = $22.99
- Home Depot price = $22.98
- Fancy Feast Cat Food
- Bradford’s price = $.99 per can
- PetSmart price = $.57 per can
(same price on their online seller chewy.com, which also charges shipping)
- Box of Milk Bone bones for small dogs
- Bradford’s price = $5.99
- PetSmart price = $5.29
- Nest Home Thermostat System
- Bradford’s = $249.99
- Bed, Bath & Beyond = $249.99
Comparing Bradford’s prices to those of Amazon.com
- Red Char Broil Electric Patio Grill
- Bradford’s price = $169.99 (complimentary delivery service)
- Amazon price = $194.99 (plus $25.80 shipping)
- Ove’ Glove
- Bradford’s price = $19.99
- Amazon price = $24.99
- GE 65W Soft Indoor Floodlight Bulb
- Bradford’s price = $8.99
- Amazon price = $11.94
- YETI 20oz Tumbler
- Bradford’s price = $29.99 (for all colors)
- Amazon price = $29.99 (except the army green one which is oddly $41.99)
The takeaway from this exercise? Online and big box shopping does not always equal a cheaper price.
We urge you to challenge this (mis)perception you and many of our community members might have; and if something is cheaper at a box store or online, ask yourself, will there be hidden costs to my community if I choose to save a few dollars?