Home' Border Enterprise : Autumn-Winter 2011 Contents enterprise
Vol 4. Autumn/Winter
A spirited fight for
custom hinges on points
of difference between
big and small retailers,
writes MICK MCGLONE
battle YOU would have to have been living on
another planet not to know smaller
retailers are conducting a David
and Goliath battle against the mega
And that many of them are losing the fight.
But others, like Gerry Smith, are not about
to surrender easily and have focused on two
aspects of retailing, that used to be a given, to
keep the big boys at bay.
Mr Smith is the co-owner of family-owned and
run business Federation Cellars in Wodonga and
says the two weapons he has got on his side
are service and convenience.
"It is something we like to think we provide as
a matter of course," he said.
"If you go to the big supermarket outlets,
whatever name they are known as, it is very
hard to get someone to serve you.
"Whereas our store and drive-in is small and
intimate and our customers are always within
sight and able to be communicated with easily.
“So we are able to help our customers quickly
and effectively and not just leave them standing
But it goes further, Mr Smith said.
"We carry an extensive range of wines and try
to support our local wine industry whenever we
can," he said.
"As retailers of fine wines it is our responsibility
to know as much about our product as we can.
"So when a customer comes in and wants
to know what style of wine goes with a certain
meal we have to be able to tell them our opinion
and recommend a range.
"I doubt if you get that sort of service in a
Mr Smith says there is also a certain amount
of mythology when it comes to the big outlets
being so much cheaper.
"Certainly we can not match their big
specials," he said.
"But we are more than competitive everywhere
Mr Smith sees convenience as a huge
advantage for the smaller retailers.
"With the stores owned by the big chains,
especially the supermarkets themselves, you
usually have to drive there, find a park, go and
fnd the product without assistance, join a queue
to pay for it and then get it back to your car," he
"I think shopping with us is far more pleasant."
Mr Smith said consumers all had a stake in
the survival of "the little guy".
"What people don't realise is that if the big
chains swallow up all of the competition then
they are not going to offer the big specials they
do now to attract customers," he said.
"And that also means they will start to offer
cheaper wines from overseas and not look after
our local, smaller producers at all."
Federation Cellars co-
owner, Gerry Smith, with
store manager, Theresa
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