Friends Don’t Ask…

A few words about the world of retail…

Despite my background as a research scientist, I have a fair amount of retail experience, having worked in a retail music store 1964-1971, and later as a music store owner 1998-2014.  It is this experience that leads me to repeat what another retailer told me once:

Friend don’t ask friends for discounts.

What this means is pretty simple: If your friends own businesses, you want them to succeed.  For their businesses to succeed, they must make a profit.  

Most small retailers pride themselves on establishing relationships with customers.  They want you to like them; to enjoy dealing with them. They want you to feel welcome and important to them…because you are.

If you value a small business friend, don’t ask for a special price. Instead, be sure to proclaim your support: insist on paying the regular price.  

Profit margins in the music business can be remarkably small. The monies needed to pay rent, utilities, insurance, advertising, employees, and a gazillion other overhead expenses must all come from the markup.  If a small business incurs $100 a day in such expenses, it doesn’t mean it has to sell $100 a day to break even.  It means that it must bring in $100 per day beyond its cost of goods sold.  

Only profit permits growth if there’s anything left after expenses. If, though, store owners wish to eat or put gasoline in their cars, such expenses, too, must come from profit, which can seriously restrict growth…or eating.

So remember, when you’re asking a friend to sell something to you for wholesale price, you’re not only not helping at all with your friend’s expenses, you’re costing that friend time and money directly from his pocket.  If your friend gives you a great discount, remember that he didn’t have to pay less for the item–on the contrary, you’ve reduced his return on investment in a manner similar to asking a friend to withdraw money from an interest-bearing account to provide you with an interest-free loan.

So support your friendly local storekeepers.  They know who you are and appreciate your business. Whatever little bit extra you may pay to them not only keeps them in business but feeds on their families.

Remember:  Friends don’t ask friends for discounts.


2 thoughts on “Friends Don’t Ask…”

  1. You also have to mention the advantages of forgoing that possible discount when you buy locally and small. For the past 15 years–ever since I arrived in Tucson–I’ve made virtually all my musical purchases at The Folk Shop here in town. The personal attention and advice I get from Paul and Brenda Blumentritt, the ambience of a store which reflects the owners’ passion for the music, and “Banjo Heaven”–a room filled with 75+ of Paul’s extensive new and used banjo inventory, all available for a test-play–more than makes up for any discount I might receive from a larger retailer.

  2. I agree completely, Zepp. My wife and I owned and operated a small Office Supply store for several years, and, while making many new friends (we moved into the area when we bought the store), we were only able to offer small discounts to regular larger-volume businesses.
    Being local, friendly, and fast and accurate with our deliveries were big factors in our success.

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