A local plant nursery near me just announced they are closing. It's too bad because they were the place you could get the really COOL plants for your yard - not just the standard stuff you can get at any big box store. They will be missed.
But, the article in the paper had a comment from the owner that made me have flashbacks to the scrapbook industry. The owner said that they were losing money because consumers were buying their plants at the big box stores and then coming to this nursery for advice on planting and caring for them. The consumers knew the big box store employees didn't know what kind of fertilizer worked best for a Japanese Maple, but they knew that this independent nursery did. They dragged all their plant issues and dying plants into the nursery for advice but left without spending a dime.
Shame on consumers. I really wish that people would but themselves in the shoes of business owners. If you don't want to shop there and pay a little more for the local retailer's fine products and experience, that's your choice. But, shame on you for buying "cheap" and then using the expertise of the independent for free. I have yet to run across a business who can exist by giving out free advice.
I can't tell you how many times this was an issue in the scrapbook industry - and probably still is. Consumers would come into their LSS and demo every tool they could get their hands on and then run to the big box store with the 40% off coupon and buy the one they wanted. Those same people then act shocked when their LSS's started closing all over the country.
I have often said that a retail business is not a charity. They can't afford to give you free crop space, free advice, free demonstrations, etc. so you can go spend your money at the store that doesn't really offer any of of that.
I know everyone is looking to save a buck these days, however, it's unfair to use a small retailer for information you know you can't get where you purchased your products. Coming in to ask advice for a $200 cutter you bought somewhere else and then feeling "justified" because you walked out with $7 in paper (and therefore bought something, after all) just isn't nice.
Put yourself in the shoes of that owner who has invested about everything they can give into their LSS before you spend half an hour playing with their tools with a 40% off coupon in your purse.