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Competing with Walmart – this guy gets it.

Last week, a story in the Flathead Beacon (a weekly print/internet paper that carries my business column) discussed a Whitefish MT store called Main Street Art and Crafts Supplies.

Main Street offers arts and crafts, but takes things to the next level, by offering classes in cake decorating, stained glass, etc.

One quote leaped out from the Beacon story, telling me that owner Rick Latta gets it:

â??I canâ??t compete with Wal-Mart prices, but Wal-Mart doesnâ??t walk customers through projects, give them ideas, teach them tricks or have a studio with tools where people can come and work and ask questions,â? he said.

This is where you make a difference by hiring the right people (experienced in those crafts), paying them a little more so they don’t have to work at Wal-Mart, and more importantly, doing what Wal-Mart simply won’t do.

It doesn’t matter if your small business competes with Borders, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City or Starbucks: They won’t do the little things like Rick is doing. Will you?

Those stores will focus on price, above all else. You have to change the rules of the game, as Rick has.

7 replies on “Competing with Walmart – this guy gets it.”

I love it…. winners do change the rules of the game…. sometimes for ever.

Small businesses have such an advantage over the big guys, particularly in customer retention! » Blog Archive » Competing with Walmart - this guy gets it. | Mark Riffey’s Small Businesssays:

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The problem with this is that the nearest Wal-Mat is 25 minutes away in Kalispell – and a lot of folks won’t drive that far for a 20.00 or less purchase – which seems to me to be the bread and butter of a crafts store….how much would you save on a 20.00 purchase? 2.00 – maybe?

I am in Missoula and shop at Ace Hardware rather than Home Depot for many of the reasons – EXCEPT when I am spending in excess of 100.00. Then it’s worth it to deal with the aggravation of N. Reserve.


Yes, it is 25 miles round trip from Whitefish to Kalispell and back.

Still, people go to Kalispell regularly for something. Will they stop at Wal-Mart as part and parcel of that trip? Perhaps.

Rick obviously recognizes that he has to provide something other than price to keep them coming to his place, otherwise he risks become just another place to buy arts and crafts.

The key to remember is that the true purpose of making the sale is to get a customer. A lot of retailers that compete with Wal-Mart forget that simple fact and choose to fight a losing battle on price, never a wise thing when Wal-Mart is the competitor.

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