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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Right or Wrong? Ľ Ľ Brick & Mortar Frustrations (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Kent Wong
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2458 Posts

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Iím a little frustrated today and I just need to rant for a little bit. As many of you know, Iím a semi-professional magician. I perform parlour magic, strolling magic, restaurant magic and even large scale illusions.

Having been around magic for over 40 years, Iíve seen a lot of changes in the industry, especially with the advent of internet technology. Although I do frequent online shops, I place a high value on the brick & mortar stores, and I always try to support them as much as possible.

But lately, Iíve been feeling like my loyalty may have been misplaced. More and more, dealing with the local stores has become a frustrating experience that tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Iím not sure if itís just the stores Iíve been dealing with, or if itís a common problem. Anyway, here is a little of what I have been experiencing:

1. The brick & mortar stores also tend to have online sites to help expand their customer base. Often, Iíll look at the online products and then go to the store to make my purchase. But 95% of the time, the products that are listed online are not carried as in-stock items at the store. If I want the item, I have to purchase it ahead of time, wait two weeks and pick it up when it gets in. To me, this defeats one of the primary advantages of even having a brick & mortar store. A real store gives you the opportunity to inspect the product and see it in action before you make your purchase decision. And, when you do decide to buy the item, you get to leave the store with the item.

2. Quite often, I will special order a product that I know will benefit my show and that no other magician in the area is using. But almost immediately after I place my order, that exact same product shows up on the stores web site! Not only that, but the owner doesnít just order in the one item Iíve purchased. He brings in 3 or 4 of them. So much for adding a unique element to my show!

Iíve always believed that such special orders deserve an element of discretion and respect for the magician who is purchasing the item. It hurts to realize this kind of loyalty no longer exists. Over time, Iíve come to the realization that the only way I can get a unique product added to my show is if I buy from a dealer completely outside my performing area. Often, that means having to buy from an online store instead.

3. Even when I do make a special order through a local brick & mortar store, I get little to no feedback once the order has been placed. There have been many occasions where I have order the item and had it charged to my credit card only to find (about 3 weeks later) that the owner never even placed the order! To me, this shows an absolute disrespect for the customerís needs and priorities. After all, if I order a product online, it usually ships within 24 hours and I get an email confirmation with a product tracking number. Should the level of service and feedback I get from a brick & mortar store be any less?

4. In the summer time, it gets even worse. It seems that business gets a little slower at the brick & mortar store during the summer, as many kids go on vacation with their parents. As a result, the store restricts its business hours and even goes so far as to only place orders once each month. That may be fine if you are one of those kids on vacation; but what if you are a professional or semi-professional and you need the product immediately? Even though I spend a substantial amount of money at the brick & mortar store, it doesnít seem to recognize or care about my business needs. In contrast, the online stores keep regular operating hours and the products I need are always available. Should I expect any less from a brick & mortar store?

I hear a lot about the potential demise of brick and mortar stores as a result of the internet. It would truly be a shame if these stores disappeared. But if they are going to survive the technological changes of our times, they are going to have to earn their right to survive. They are going to have to keep pace with the level of service and loyalty that customers have a right to expect.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Kent
"Believing is Seeing"
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<BR>www.kentwongmagic.com
rowdymagi5
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Virginia
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Kent, your thoughts reflect my experiences as well!
Skip Way
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Quote:

1. The brick & mortar stores also tend to have online sites to help expand their customer base. Often, Iíll look at the online products and then go to the store to make my purchase. But 95% of the time, the products that are listed online are not carried as in-stock items at the store. If I want the item, I have to purchase it ahead of time, wait two weeks and pick it up when it gets in. To me, this defeats one of the primary advantages of even having a brick & mortar store. A real store gives you the opportunity to inspect the product and see it in action before you make your purchase decision. And, when you do decide to buy the item, you get to leave the store with the item.


A lot of this depends on the shop. I always ask my local shop owner whether he has an item I've seen elsewhere in stock or can order it. If he can't order it, he says so and I buy it form the source. If he can order it and I'm interested, he orders it for me on faith...based on my history as a reliable customer. If it's a high-cost item he may ask for a deposit...which is more than fair and a reasonable business practice. When I ask him to order something, I accept it when it arrives...even if my needs have changed. He knows he can trust me to honor my word.

On a couple of occasions he's received the item and decided it didn't meet either of our standards. In these cases he would either offer to return the item or, if he can't return it, he would keep it and absorb the cost. We honor each other's loyalty. Thank you, Jon Ferrante of The Magic Corner!!! (He deserves that plug!)

On the other issue of having items in stock: For any B&M to survive these days, they MUST have an Internet outlet, as well. And much of the Internet sales these days are drop shipped from outside sources. This makes business sense due to the potential volume (or lack thereof) of sales and the storage & shipping needs required. The shop can offer a greater variety...which directly benefits you, the consumer. The fact that it may not be on hand the second you want or need it is a minor inconvenience at best. If it's a major problem for you, then this points to a lack of planning on your part. ("You" and "Your" are used here figuratively...I'm not pointing fingers.) Smile

Quote:
2. Quite often, I will special order a product that I know will benefit my show and that no other magician in the area is using. But almost immediately after I place my order, that exact same product shows up on the stores web site! Not only that, but the owner doesnít just order in the one item Iíve purchased. He brings in 3 or 4 of them. So much for adding a unique element to my show!

Iíve always believed that such special orders deserve an element of discretion and respect for the magician who is purchasing the item. It hurts to realize this kind of loyalty no longer exists. Over time, Iíve come to the realization that the only way I can get a unique product added to my show is if I buy from a dealer completely outside my performing area. Often, that means having to buy from an online store instead.


It's a business. If an item is hot, the shop owner would be a fool not to take advantage of the profit potential. The fact that 3 or 4 of these illusions are floating around your town shouldn't bother a true professional. The uniqueness of an effect comes from you...not the prop!

I used to shudder whenever I was asked to share a stage with another magician. What if he performed one of my signature pieces and stole my thunder?!? Then a very wise mentor taught me the value of originality. Just recently, I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with another top area pro. We did several similar routines...and yet, because we both focus on being original, this didn't hurt either of our acts. We acctually complimented one another's versions. Don't fault the magic shop owner if you insist on performing a bit exactly as it's presented on the instruction sheet.

Quote:
3. Even when I do make a special order through a local brick & mortar store, I get little to no feedback once the order has been placed. There have been many occasions where I have order the item and had it charged to my credit card only to find (about 3 weeks later) that the owner never even placed the order! <B>To me, this shows an absolute disrespect for the customerís needs and priorities.</B> After all, if I order a product online, it usually ships within 24 hours and I get an email confirmation with a product tracking number. Should the level of service and feedback I get from a brick & mortar store be any less?

4. In the summer time, it gets even worse. It seems that business gets a little slower at the brick & mortar store during the summer, as many kids go on vacation with their parents. As a result, the store restricts its business hours and even goes so far as to only place orders once each month. That may be fine if you are one of those kids on vacation; but what if you are a professional or semi-professional and you need the product immediately? Even though I spend a substantial amount of money at the brick & mortar store, it doesnít seem to recognize or care about my business needs. In contrast, the online stores keep regular operating hours and the products I need are always available. Should I expect any less from a brick & mortar store?


Agree with you 100%..and this sort of poor customer service would have me running far away from this shop. But, I've also found this level of disrespect and disorganization among several well-known Internet shops. It isn't limited to the B&M.

Quote:
I hear a lot about the potential demise of brick and mortar stores as a result of the internet. It would truly be a shame if these stores disappeared. But if they are going to survive the technological changes of our times, they are going to have to earn their right to survive. They are going to have to keep pace with the level of service and loyalty that customers have a right to expect.


A bad shop, B&M or Internet, has no more right to exist with poor customer service than any other business. If this type of service leads to their eventual extinction, so be it. The shops that promote awesome customer service (Such as my two favorites...The Magic Corner and LaRock's Fun & Magic) are more than willing to fill the void...and deserve to do so.

Skip Smile
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
AmazingEARL
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Tennessee, USA
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Quote:
On 2006-08-10 13:52, magicman845 wrote:
2. Quite often, I will special order a product that I know will benefit my show and that no other magician in the area is using. But almost immediately after I place my order, that exact same product shows up on the stores web site! Not only that, but the owner doesnít just order in the one item Iíve purchased. He brings in 3 or 4 of them. So much for adding a unique element to my show!


In that case, you'd be the victim of "minimums." Often even established retailers are forced by certain wholesalers to buy two or three of an item at a time...in some cases, items are only sold by the dozen. Just buying one may not be possible.

It could also be that the shop gets a discount for buying more than one of the item at a time. In order to compete with the on-line folks and reduce overhead, buying in quantity keeps their prices competitive.

But, as you hypothesized, if you want to be the *only* one in a particular area with a particular trick, you may be best served by purchasing it out of the area.
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Bar10dr
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I have seen many of these posts on the magic Cafť about problems with both brick & mortar shops as well as internet shops. You cannot hold every brick & mortar shop responsible just because of one bad one. I wish when people made these complaints they would come out and name the shop where they had the problem. If these shops are not serving their customers you should let other magicians know about it. Magicians helping Magicians. Isn't this what the Magic Cafť is supposed to be about?
Skip Way
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On the other hand, Bar...you get an individual who demands unreaasonable perfection or has a grudge against a shop. He whines here...we take it as gospel...and a good, honest shop owner pays the price for unsupported accusations.

Simply know your shop. I can usually tell within the first 5 or 10 minutes of entering whether a B&M shop is on the up-and-up. "Usually." And an Internet shop...I suppose that relies on word-of-mouth and personal experience.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Kent Wong
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Profile of Kent Wong
Skip, you are a fountain of wisdom as usual. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. They are really appreciated. The one point I would like to touch upon is the originality of effect vs. originality of performance. I fully agree with you that it is the performance that makes any effect unique. I perform many of the same effects as other magicians in the City, but the routine I develop around each effect is truly my own.

But it does get a little frustrating when, after months of reasearch, I finally decide upon a unique new effect to incorporate into my show; and immediately, it shows up on the B&M website. Often, these products are either high-end items or products that are "off the beaten path". In other words, they are not things the B&M would normally even think to carry. Also, these products are not subject to supplier "minimums" since that is something I ask about every time I place a special order.

In one case, the owner of the B&M did tell me that he needed to order a minimum of 12 units. He was concerned because he wasn't sure if he could sell the remainders. I told him to go ahead with the order and I bought all 12 of them. Yet, even then, he posted the item on his website!

One of the key reasons that I didn't publish the name of this store is that I continue to get many of my basic supplies from it and I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with the owner. Many other Cafť members who reside near me also frequent this store and the owner sometimes visits these forums. It's too small a world for me to start naming names and pointing fingers.

Kent
"Believing is Seeing"
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edh
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Magicman by not naming names this B&M shop will continue with its current business practices. You are also doing a disservice to magicians who happen to stumble onto this shop. They will be subject to the same handling that you are complaining about. How does this help other magicians?
Magic is a vanishing art.
Kent Wong
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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I didn't create this thread to single out any particular shop. Other magicians may also experience similar frustrations with the B&M stores in their area. If there is a general trend towards this type of service, then all B&M stores need to step forward and raise the bar. If a post like this helps everyone to raise their expectations of what they demand from their B&M store, how can that be a disservice to magicians?

Kent
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edh
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Becuase they will be burned at least once. by naming names that will prevent it, would it not?

If we don't know what shops to look out for then what really is the purpose of this post? Other than posting your dissatisfaction for a particular b&m shop that none of us knows who to avoid.
Magic is a vanishing art.
Kent Wong
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Edh,

I respect your opinion, but I stand by my reasons as stated above. Pointing fingers was not the point of the post. A general raising of the bar was.

Kent
"Believing is Seeing"
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<BR>www.kentwongmagic.com
Skip Way
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Kent, I see your point. Well said. Sounds like you've taken reasonable precautions and were still upstaged here. My "Font of Wisdom" runneth dry. All I can think to say is: The price of success is the ever present annoyance of inferior clones. Good luck!

:) Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Banester
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Quote:
On 2006-09-03 20:50, edh wrote:
Becuase they will be burned at least once. by naming names that will prevent it, would it not?

If we don't know what shops to look out for then what really is the purpose of this post? Other than posting your dissatisfaction for a particular b&m shop that none of us knows who to avoid.


Maybe by others reading this post and hopefully some of the shop owners they will take a closer look at thier operation and raise the level of customer service. I agree naming names is not going to help anyone only hurt someones business. I would recommend talking to the shop owner and telling exactly what you stated in your first post. I am sure he doesn't want to loose a valuable customer like yourself. Sometimes people get into a groove and he may not even realize what he is doing wrong unless you speak up. Some polite critism might do a world of good for everyone.
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
become filled with joy
-Doug Henning-
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