Shopping centers and mini strip malls make it easy for consumers to find what they need in one ideal location. While dropping off their dry cleaning, they can pick up some flowers for that special someone’s birthday and then grab a snack at the mini mart. You may disagree that that consumers think like that, but in fact, they do. It’s all about convenience.
But all that convenience, how does it play out for the business owners of those shops? Are they benefiting from having their neighbors sell products and services that are (or seem) so dissimilar from their own? Are their neighbors helping them or hurting them?
Well, let’s look at this logically. You don’t want to have your neighbor selling the exact same products as you. That’s direct competition, a definite “hurt”. However, we see this with gas stations 3-4 on every corner, yet they manage to survive. Why? Brand preference. Not everyone prefers Arco, or Chevron, or 76. And those who have no preference don’t care.
For the smaller business owner, neighbors of a different stock are always in your best interest. There’s no direct competition, it’s easier to give positive referrals, get positive referrals and maintain a loyal customer base. But it’s not just about having neighbors with different inventory, it’s also about being neighborly. Get to know your neighbors, find out what they sell, what’s their hottest ticket item, when do they have promotions and if they wouldn’t mind getting referrals from (who’s gonna say no, right?). Word of mouth is still a potent tool, even among the smaller niches.