Let’s say you’re a small, independent bookseller that unfortunately happens to be down the street from some giant megastore chain that offers deep discounts on the same books you’re trying to sell at full retail price. You’re probably out of luck and better off opening a hot dog stand, right? Well, maybe not. I just read an article about such a case in England.
Linghams is an independent bookstore in Wirral, England, located across the road from mega supermarket and retail chain Tesco. Tesco sells new releases at steeply discounted prices, and Linghams’ sales were negatively impacted by the competition. After reading an article about Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy in which Leahy indicated he felt bad about wiping out small businesses, Linghams manager Eleanor Davies contacted Leahy. Davies explained how the discounted books were affecting sales at Linghams but also noted that Linghams was a specialty bookseller and thus offered a different service than Tesco. Leahy suggested that Tesco could send customers over to Linghams if they were unable to find the desired books at Tesco. Guess what? It worked! The Tesco near Linghams began displaying signs pointing customers to visit Linghams if they needed a broader or more specialized book selection.
It’s nice that the voice of the independent bookseller was heard, but this will probably not become a trend. Still, it can’t hurt to ask, since if you don’t ask, the answer is always “no.”