I've been reading the posts by Mike Sprout and E.C. regarding Wal-Mart and posts by others regarding Wal-Mart and Kmart.
I'm not against those chains expanding or existing. If they are run right, they can provide good products and services to the consumer at reasonable prices.
As for the small business owners, they should not throw in the towel and stew in their sour grapes. Like Sprout says, they need to work to adapt to the change in their environment. My suggestion is that they work to provide the very best service possible, and see what they can offer their customers that the big chains and medium-size businesses don't.
I'm definitely not saying that Wal-Mart and Kmart are perfect. In fact, there is much about both chains that sucks. As a consumer, I get pissed off about having to wait well over 20 minutes in the check-out lane while the cashier-on-Valium "drags the wagon". And my dander rises when I have to search and search for an appliance or lamp that is packaged in an UNDAMAGED box!!! The Audio departments in both chains are a JOY! I just love trying to search for a disc I want. I gave up on that a long time ago. Whoever is responsible for stocking the CD's ALWAYS seems to be ILLITERATE!!! NO ATTENTION WHATSOEVER is paid to the alphabet or the artist/rock group tag. Example: It is not uncommon to find a Judas Priest or Primus disc under the Pink Floyd divider. And it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find Celine Deion filed under "Deep Purple" (Not that I'm picking on her - she's a good artist.). "Smoke on the water" indeed!!!
With the Wal AND the K obviously just paying lip-service to service, the small or medium business owner can use that to his/her advantage. There are plenty of intelligent consumers out there that want a good product that is domestically-built, and built to LAST!!! A third-world piece of crap just won't do for this group. Do your research, locate the manufacturers of these products, and provide that personal attention to detail AND courtesy that customers cannot get anywhere else, and your chances of survival WILL multiply!!! I don't believe I'm the only one who's digusted with the deterioration of service AND lack of cleanliness of these and other chain stores of their kind! I predict there is a growing number of people who want quality products with impeccable service. I don't mind paying more to get the above, and I don't think others will either.
I would like to see Wal-Mart and the K get their shit together. I've said this many times - There's nothing wrong with profits if you actually work to EARN the money, instead of just plugging along in a half-ass way.
To the independent recorded music store owners: You can co-exist with the big chains just like the other small business owners, and you can win over those chains' customers. There are plenty of people out there who couldn't care less about the Counting Crows, the booooriiiing Wallflowers, Alannis, or Jewel. Provide that laid-back atmosphere, take on an efficient and knowledgeable staff - the best you can afford, and work hard to locate those hard-to-find discs and tapes, and the ones that are readily available but none of the big chains are touching. Example: I had to search my ass off for the Outfield's 1985 release, "Play Deep". This disc was popular back in its day, but even that big Virgin Records outlet in Grapevine Mills Outlet Mall doesn't have it. There is a good indie store way over in Dallas on the Dallas/Richardson line called Bill's. Kinda far for me to drive, but next time I'm over that way with some excess mad money, I'll go crazy like a kid in a candy store. You can bet on it! I don't remember if owner Bill Wisner has a web site, but if I can locate it, I'll give the link in a future post.
To close, a major chain does not have to mean a death sentence to an indie store. With effort, both can co-exist. The good indie records place is your best source for the hard-to-finds...and you can bet on NOT finding Nine Inch Nails filed under "Ted Nugent"!!!
Have a good night! Hope all you lovers out there had a GREAT Valentines Night! Heh heh!