Will you pay for free?

When I’m at home I usually have music on in the background. Sometimes it’s classic rock, sometimes, country, sometimes bluegrass, sometimes calypso and sometimes something even more random. Most of the time, I have Pandora playing so I have many options.

For those of you not familiar with Pandora it’s Internet based radio based on whatever genre or artist you like. They have a free or paid plan. The free plan allows up to 40 hours of listening a month and has some advertisements. The paid plan costs $36 a year and allows for unlimited listening, has no advertisements and has a higher quality sound (so they say, I wouldn’t know the difference). For me it’s a no brainer to go with the paid plan for a number of reasons with the main one being I listen to a lot more than 40 hours a month. However, when I first signed up for the service I tried it for a few days and then went with the paid plan even though I didn’t know I would be exceeding the 40 hours. The reason I chose to do that is I thought it was a great concept and for $36 a year was worth supporting whether I used it a lot or not.

The other day I had to renew my Pandora membership and it got me thinking whether there were other things I would or should support even though they are free. Or, are there other businesses we should support even if they might cost a bit more?

It’s difficult, if not impossible for a small local grocer to compete with Wal Mart on price since Wal Mart has such strong buying power but if the local grocer provides better service would you pay a bit more?

The small, local business owner needs the support of their community. The mistake some make is to feel that people owe them just because they are local and should pay more. While many people do want to support local the reality is, they want something in return. I will pay a bit more to buy local IF the local business provides better service or has more knowledge or is able to provide SOMETHING others can’t. As an example, if I need to buy a pair of shoes and I go to a local store, I want and expect better customer service in return for a slightly higher price from a big box store. If they are higher priced and have lesser service than why would I shop there?

I believe it’s important to support small businesses and local businesses but, and this is a big but, only if they are deserving. The local farmer who is growing organic food and has to charge more deserves it. The local store who provides bad service doesn’t.

Support the local businesses…that deserve it.

Have a great day!

Lawrence

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