Buy Big or Shop Small? The Battle of Big Box Stores and Small Shops

Big or not too big, that is the question. Where do you like to shop? The big box stores or your neighborhood’s one-of-a-kind boutiques? Coming from a family of small business owners I certainly support the small biz enterprise. But as a shopper, I certainly do my fair share of big box shopping as well. In the interest of debate, I’d like to breakdown a battle of big versus small and would love your input as well! Check out the battle below and let us know your thoughts.

The Battle of Big Box versus Small Shops

Inventory — Winner? Big Box. Your big box store is the clear winner here. If you want to count on the item you’re in search of being in stock or even just carried at that store at all, big box is your bet. This includes online shopping as well or the giant (I’m looking at you, Amazon) which clearly has access to pretty much everything, maybe even global domination.

Personalized Help — Winner? Small Shops: My dad was always a stickler on this one. He takes pride in his store offering personalized help. Walk in and you’re greeted with a smile and asked for help. Have a question, you’ll get it answered. No one will have to go to a computer and type away to find what you need, they’ll know where it is and better yet, they won’t need three ladders to get to where it’s located. Small shops often do extra research to help you find what you’re looking for and will even send you to a competitor if they know they don’t have what you need. And admit it, those online fake helpers that pop-up when you’re shopping never get it right.

Return Policies — Winner? Big Box: Big box stores are so accustomed to returns that they’ve got the system figured out. Shop at Nordstrom and return something a year later no questions asked. Ship your shoes back to Zappos without paying shipping. Easy peasy.

Originality — Winner? Small Shops: I love shopping for friends in small shop boutiques because the inventory selected was done so ever-so-carefully. Think about it: a small shop only has so much retail space so what they choose to sell is taken extremely seriously. What’s more, when you find a boutique you love, chances are you’ll always love what they have since their owner or buyer probably has similar taste to you. The inventory is selected with care rather than by mass buyers at huge retailer sales shows for mass appeal.

Purchase Power — Winner? Big Box: It’s ironic, isn’t it? American Express touts the importance of shopping at small businesses, but you’re pressed to find a small biz that accepts the card. Reason being that it costs so much to use Amex that it’s just not in the interest of small shops. Big box stores however practically accept everything, some are even bringing back layaway. Alas, they’re the winner here.

Economic Boom — Winner? Undecided. Shopping at small shops means you’re supporting your neighbor. Shopping at big box stores means you’re supporting some rich dude who probably banks in Switzerland, but those big box stores also provide a whole lotta jobs. So who is the winner here? My father would say small shops, my friends say big box…what do you think?

Tell us what you think! Do you prefer small shops over big box or vice versa? And why?