Small retailers struggle to compete with big retailers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Small retailers struggle to compete with big retailers

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Reedsburg (WKOW) -- When Claude Fearing opened an appliance and electronics store on Reedsburg's Main Street in 1953, he gambled this thing called television would catch on.

Today, Dan Fearing, Claude's grandson, is gambling this thing called big box retailers won't crush him.

Mom-and-pop retailers for years have struggled to compete with big retailers offering better deals and lower prices thanks to their own bulk purchasing advantages. 

Dan Fearing says his store's advantage has always been its superior service.

"We don't take it to your home and drop it off in your driveway, and say, Good Luck.  We bring it inside your house. We hook it up.  We make sure it works," said Fearing.

But in a tough econony, price often trumps service.

Revenue at Fearing's Appliance plunged 30 percent from last year.

"It's a big hit. We're really scrambling," said Fearing.  He speculates many customers buy from the big retailers simply because the price difference is incredibly important to them today more than ever.

What's more, the big boxes are moving in.  In the past few years, a Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Menards opened nearby. 

Customers can almost always get lower prices on what Fearing calls the bread and butter of today's store: washing machines.

Just like Claude Fearing gambled on television sets, Dan Fearing is gambling that customers will still think better service is worth $100 or $200 more at the cash register.

Send comments to Dan Cassuto at dcassuto@wkowtv.com.

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