Saturday, November 15, 2008
Doing Business Locally
This is that time of the year when politicians start slinging the mud at each other. If you’re like me, you probably don’t enjoy hearing them slam each other. It’d sure be a lot better if they just told us straight up how they stand on the issues. But that’s probably a bit like asking Donald Trump to be humble. It’s just not in their DNA.
However, it is important to understand the issues in order to make the right voting decisions.
I think it’s pretty much the same when you’re shopping for a diamond or ring. While I don’t want to ever say anything negative about our competitors; it is important that customers know the facts before making such an important decision as buying their engagement ring. We know we’re not the only good place to buy a diamond or ring from (although I do passionately believe we’re the best place).
In any case, one of the frustrating things for us is when we hear customers mistake us for a national chain or think that some of our competitors are local businesses—neither could be further from the truth. We’ve always been a local family owned business. In fact, my Grandfather, Ben Tipp owned the premier Diamond store in the Northwest back when Nordstrom was just a tiny shoe shop.
His three-story store was on the corner of 3rd and Pine in downtown Seattle. More on that story later, but the point is that I was born in Seattle and here I am today with our original store just a few blocks from my Grandfather’s famous store.
Another truth is that most of the other jewelry competitors that you often hear advertising on the radio aren’t local stores. Most of them in fact are huge national chains. One of the names you always hear radio ads for has stores all around the country and are headquartered in Colorado. Another big radio advertiser locally is owned by one of the biggest jewelry conglomerates in the world. They also own many of the mall stores that you see in most of the malls around the country. And another of the big chains that you often hear on the radio is owned by world famous billionaire, Warren Buffett.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing business with a national chain, but you do have the right to know who you’re doing business with. Some people prefer to do business with a small local company and some don’t really care. It’s a choice. I should know. Earlier in my career, I co-founded Robbins Bros., World’s Biggest Engagement Ring Store. Robbins Bros. became an almost overnight success, but after a number of years, I wanted out. I sold most of my partnership interest when my brother wanted to go national and I didn’t. I found that I just didn’t enjoy the bureaucracy that is an inherent part of an ever-expanding business.
Many customers write in our Questionnaires that they’d like it if E.E. Robbins opened more stores, but we’re one of the few businesses around that has no interest or intention in becoming a big chain. We know that it would change our business forever and that we couldn’t offer the same kind of buying experience to our clients. We just want to be the best that we can be, not the biggest.
Maybe you like doing business with a local family owned company like ours and maybe you don’t care or maybe you enjoy some of the advantages a big company can offer like, for example, locations nationwide in case you move around a lot. It’s your choice, but either way it’s good to know about the company you decide to do business with. If you’re not sure who the company is that you’re considering buying from, you may want to look on their web-site and see how many other locations they have and where they are based out of.
In any case, we’ll always be proud to be a Seattle company.