From a cartoon by L. F. Van Zelm
The Larchmonter-Times, January 12, 1922
Mail-order versus Us
The fight between the mail-order houses and the local
businessman never lets up. The latter are more than
holding their own. In spite of what some people in Larchmont
think, only about 5 percent of the total volume of business
done in the country over is done through mail-order
houses. The local merchant remains counselor and friend
of the buying public. He can give more sound and reasonable
advice about goods in 10 minutes than can be obtained
in a catalog in ten months.
An element that is in favor of local buying is the respective values of various
articles and why it would be advisable to buy one kind
in preference to another. There is practically no "talking
into buying something you don't want to" left in local
merchandise, but there is much of this in catalog through
suggestion. Indeed money is often wasted by sending
for stuff seen in catalogs that is not what actually
is needed. But there is no advice, no guiding hand,
and the worthless catalog article is sent for and turns
out to be unsuited for the purpose intended.
The service that the local dealer is able to render is worth money, and this point is often overlooked. This service hinges on a guaranteed satisfaction. There is not a dealer in town who will not insist that a customer is satisfied in every respect, and who will not do everything possible to create satisfaction.
And as for price, the local merchants lose nothing
by comparison, all things considered. It is, of course,
true that all things are not always considered by buyers.
The mail-order people, it is certain, bank on quantity
sales, the purchase of a dollar's worth of goods at
a time is not encouraged. It is too little to bother
with. Yet some thoughtless people expect the merchant
to sell as cheaply when disposing of a small purchase
as the mail-order people do when disposing of sales
from $10 and up. It is unfair to expect this.
Go to any merchant in Larchmont, and tell him how much goods you intend to buy, as much at a time as you would if buying from a mail-order house. The chances are ten to one that he would sell just as cheaply as the mail-order house, and probably estimate on a line of goods too high-class for the mail-order house to handle, and give instant service to boot.
This item of quality goods is important. Very few resale merchants can afford to handle goods that might not give satisfaction. The buyer is "close to home" and can be heard from - personally - too easily.
Do you have material or suggestions for the 1922 Year in Review? Let us know, at firstname.lastname@example.org.