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Wyoming Business Tips for May 7-13

April 28, 2017

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Greg Jordan, WSBDC associate state director

“How can my downtown business compete with the big-box stores?” Jane, Laramie

The WSBDC Network has had several speakers the last year who presented slightly different ideas about how a small-town business owner can compete.

One of the common themes among them was to not compete directly on price. That is the market where the big-box stores live. They use their massive buying power to get great deals on wholesale items, and there is no way to compete on price in their market, consistently. It is possible to find some items for which a small store can beat prices but, over the long haul, it is not a great proposition.

With that in mind, there is a definite shift in the way consumers buy that is helpful to the small community business. Meridith Powell, who was one of our speakers and is the author of the book, “Winning in the Trust and Value Economy,” says people are increasingly being drawn to relationship purchasing. They would rather buy from someone they trust and know than to get a slightly better price. The choices in electronics, for example, can be baffling, and the big-box clerks seldom understand why one item costs so much more than another.

Tom Shay, owner of Profit Plus and a speaker for the WSBDC Network, frequently discusses the value of customer engagement in the retail industry. He says a customer wants to have a unique buying experience and frequently will develop a sense of loyalty to the store that provides it.

If you think back to your own favorite buying experience, it will usually revolve around the excellent customer service you received.

These are just two ideas among the many that a small business can use to truly compete with a big-box store: building relationships with your customers and giving them a fantastic buying experience. This is not something they are likely to find in a big-box store.

For more help with these ideas, an adviser from the WSBDC Network can help identify a market and show small-business owners the resources to boost numbers. For more information, visit or call 1-800-348-5194.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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