Not all shoppers are created equal

Mike KnaakColumn, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. Joseph, Sartell – St. Stephen, St. Joseph0 Comments

There’s shopping and then there’s SHOPPING. The definition depends on what you mean by shopping.

I’m more of a lower-case shopper. By that I mean I go shopping when I need a specific item. So I’m more of a buyer than a shopper.,

I’m definitely not a SHOPPER…someone who likes to check out products and dream about what they’d buy and sometimes actually buy something.

Of course, both types of shopping has changed as online shopping threatens actual stores.

This year on Cyber Monday…the Monday after Black Friday…U.S. shoppers spent about $7.9 billion, up almost 20 percent over 2017.

Will online stories ever replace traditional brick-and-mortar businesses? I don’t think so.

Online works great for buying commodities…items that are the same from store to store. For example, toner, paper and other business supplies. Or specific name-brand items with the same product number such as power tools.

Entertainment products are great online purchases because no matter how big the music store or book seller, brick and mortar stores can’t match the endless selection available online. It’s easy to read a book on a Kindle, but I prefer turning the pages of a book I can hold in my hand and add to my library.

When I taught photojournalism, students would frequently ask me about what camera to buy.

I would answer by asking them questions about how they planned to use the camera now and in the future and how much money they had to spend. Students were often attracted to “deals” available online.

Buying a camera online can be tricky. First, just like a pair of shoes or a new car, you want to get the “feel” of the camera. There’s no way to do that online. You need to visit a camera store. If you are going to buy online, make sure you know the EXACT make and model of the camera you want before purchasing.

My favorite camera store is B and H in New York City. They offer just about every camera, photo accessory, audio and video gear ever made. And their prices are very competitive. I’ve ordered many products from them. But beginning to shop online for a camera at B and H or any other online store is pretty daunting.

If you are ever in New York City, visit their retail store on Ninth Avenue where you’ll find you can touch and choose from thousands of products.

I can’t imagine buying a television online although there are apparently great deals to be found. I want to compare pictures side by side. The best place to do that is at a Best Buy store, not Best Buy online.

Recently, I’ve seen ads for buying a car online from Carvana. You can search for the car and price you want to pay and make the purchase. You’ve got to be kidding. Drive a car without sitting in it, without driving it, without testing the controls?

Carvana promises a seven-day “test own” period so you can return it if you don’t like it. No thanks.

There’s at least one brick-and-mortar store that I’m pretty sure will never be replaced by online shopping. That’s Crafts Direct in Waite Park.

During the holiday season, I accompanied my wife who was SHOPPING for yarn. The store features tens of thousands of products spread across 32 aisles and 40,000 square feet.

Where else can you find an aisle marker for EYES?

There’s no way an online shopping experience could replace browsing the selections. As I followed my wife around, I assumed the posture of the other small number of men in the store by walking slowly with my hands in my pockets.

As we approached the corral that leads to the 10 cashiers, I checked out the items along the way. I found bags of pretzels and an iPhone holder for my bike.

I almost became a SHOPPER.

Author: Mike Knaak

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