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Knowing customers aids local stores

November 23, 2012
By JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

As more retailers begin their holiday sales earlier and earlier each year, local shops are competing using one aspect the bigger retailers don't have: personally knowing their customers.

Black Friday sales have become Thanksgiving night traditions this year with people camping out ahead of time, but some local store owners didn't rush to open their doors. Instead, they are making their own deals and offering the one-on-one customer support they always have.

"We know our customers. We look for things when a certain author puts out a new book," said Priscilla Mitchell, owner of Mysteries on Main Street in?Johnstown. "We know Mary Smith, for instance, would like that book. We know our customers. That's the difference."

Article Photos

Vince Ottalagano, the owner of Vishnu Music in Gloversville, said the store offers guitars and repairs that customers can’t find at larger stores.
The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini

The deals Mitchell is advertising include ebooks starting at $49, buy two ornaments and get one free, buy two individual Christmas cards and get one free and 20 percent off calendars.

At Vishnu Music in Gloversville, owner Vince Ottalagano said he will offer 10 percent off make-your-own guitar packages, which include guitars and amplifiers. For Black Friday, Ottalagano said he was offering three guitar cables for $5.

He planned on getting the store open at 10 a.m. and staying as late as he was required to. During the holiday season, he runs longer hours than usual and opens seven days a week starting two weeks before Christmas.

Ottalagano points to the fact that he is a certified guitar pro technician, and he always works with customers to repair their guitars or give them advice.

"We always work with people," he said. "It's kind of frustrating with online purchases - and everybody buys online - you don't have the product in your hands. And it's not always from certified personnel like we are. [It's about] checking the instrument out and making sure it is what it should be."

At Dad's Musical Instruments and more in Gloversville, Gary and Audrey Lane expressed the same sentiments, and said the customers that come into their store get to look at the guitar and play it before deciding what they want to purchase.

And to compete with the online retailers, they look at the prices online and match them at their store.

"There, you get it in the mail, you don't like it, what do you do? It's going to cost you to send it back," Gary said.

Brian Stewart, Peeble's New York/New England Regional District manager, said the store opened at 8 p.m. Thursday like many other stores, and they were busy with many people looking for tablets.



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