Apparently, there's a few Big Bad Companies out there, that are allegedly... and, I'd like to re-iterate that "allegedly" bit, you'll see why in a second... "Strong-arming" Little Victim Skateshop. Some people get offended by this sort of thing. Thus, they've kindly asked me to check it out. Which, I did.
Here's what happened: I called about 300 skateshops, and asked each one of them if they're being strong-armed by anyone. The resounding answer has consistently been "no". Still, rumors and innuendo keep on flying around. Whatever.
So: Let's assume for a second that, somewhere, in some parallel universe, this is actually happening. Well, there's an easy solution to the problem readily at hand for any and every skate shop out there in our land. What is that solution, you ask?! The answer is: Stop buying from Big Bad Companies. Terminate your communications with them, immediately. And, there you have it! Problem solved! It's awfully hard to 'strong-arm' a shop, after all, that won't even take your call. Or, open their door to your sales reps. I'd go one better, and tell them all to f**k the hell off... but, that's just me, I guess. Not everyone is the foul-mouthed a**hole that I am; I forget that one pretty much, all the time. I'm sorry.
Now, I can hear you, Mr. Shop Owner, screaming your head off right now. "But, Bud", you'll say, "We need Big Bad Company's product in our store! It does well for us, we get great margins on it, and the sell-through is excellent. We can't just tell them to Go Screw". Well, I'm not telling you not to buy the product. Just, don't buy it directly from the source. That's all.
The answer is, if you really need a product- yet, you don't want to go direct for whatever reason... and, those reasons could include, your inside salesperson is a jerk, maybe you're paying through the nose for shipping, maybe your orders have a nasty way of getting bunged up on a regular basis, or maybe you're even getting 'strong-armed' by the manufacturer... whatever the case may be, the easy answer is merely to buy that product, somewhere else. Namely, through an independent distributor.
There are, obviously, advantages to this. The obvious one being: Distributors don't strong-arm shops.
And, why is that?! Well, because distributors are impartial and apolitical sellers. They don't care which brands you buy; all they want, is for you to buy something. And, if possible: A whole lotta somethings. From, them. The more brands, and the more product categories, the better. This, of course, is great for your shop, because you get to easily diversify your product selection and brand mix, with one easy call. Bonus!
So, if Big Bad Company is bumming you out? Hit them where it hurts: Their Pocketbooks. Steer your business to Reggie at Eastern, or Damien at South Shore, or Art at AWH... or, any one of the other good, reputable, helpful independent distributors out there. Big Bad Company, right off the bat, will be earning less margin on each unit sold... which is quite a punishment for being cheeseheads, isn't it? Chances are when all is said and done, you'll still be paying pretty close to what you're paying right now for your product... and, by rolling those orders into your orders for other product categories, and you may even qualify for free shipping, bakers' dozens, volume discounts, and other perks. Sure, you may lose a little margin here and there. Or, you may even gain a little. You might even begin trying out some new and different products while you're at it, realize that there's a much bigger planet out there than Big Bad Company might have you believe, and add a few new flavors to your little shop. Either way: You save yourself a nasty-sized headache; your arms get to live a long, and un-twisted existence; and, Big Bad Company gets a little kick in the nuts along the way. In my world, that's called a 'win-win-win' sorta situation. Beautiful!
Bud Stratford is a skateboarding business writer with strong roots and ties in the skateboarding industry. Feel free to contact Bud at firstname.lastname@example.org.