Have you seen the new eBay commercial?
It makes me cringe, and maybe it’s because the actors – adults – remind me of how mean kids in school might act, snickering to each other while sharing an embarrassing photo of someone else on their phone.
More likely though, its because it goes against what people and the planet need consumers to be shown right now.
“Stop overpaying” their message states, as shoppers browse items in-store and then search for them cheaper on eBay.
Dear consumers, I ask you to strongly consider the long-term negative impact of what eBay is suggesting to shoppers in this ad.
Please also know that you are not overpaying in-store.
There is a huge problem that occurs when products are undervalued online, and before you get bent out of shape over sticker prices, please ask yourself these important questions…
- Do you enjoy visiting the retail shops you frequent?
- Do you feel they lend vibrancy to your city or town streets?
- What would your city or town be like without these shops?
What would downtown streets be like without retail shops, vibrant hot spots for human connection where we get to see, feel, try-on and discuss the products we love to look for?
Part of what you’re paying for in-store is this experience – the brick and mortar, locally owned, carefully curated, street enhancing, city contributing physical location you enjoy visiting to discover brands and products you wouldn’t have learned of otherwise, where you can feel and try before you buy – and likely more easily and securely process returns, too!
From an ethical standpoint, this image eBay is depicting of greedy shops overpricing products hurts people. Good, honest people who in a digital age have the courage to stay in the brick and mortar business.
Honestly, I'm saddened that this is the message eBay would choose to share coming into the holidays. Advertising low prices is their niche, I get that, but what I don't appreciate - can't appreciate - is falsely depicting brick and mortar stores as ripping people off, while also making consumers out to be saving-seeking, snickering shoppers. Is that you? I didn't think so!
In my books it's wrong, a huge fail - pull the commercial eBay, you're not making anyone look good, least of all yourselves.
It’s so highly unlikely that most store owners aspire to rip off consumers and get rich, it's not the business you get into to make massive profits. Owning a store, and persisting with it in this digital age, has much more to do with the owner's belief in something far more important and valuable – they believe in contributing to their community, boosting the local economy and creating a space for human connection.
Yes - they do need to make money, but money isn't what keeps you going. Money is what makes you want to quit. A love for what you do, a firm belief that the service you provide is helping others is what keeps you going.
Unfortunately, the importance of face to face, in-person conversations can only be understood when we cease to have them. It's something I am beginning to understand and appreciate, after 5 years in business, much of it spent working in isolation. I am craving connection, real talks, awkward hug-handshakes, coffee pot chit chats and lunchtime laughs.
If consumers worldwide follow eBay’s suggestion – to first browse in-store then search for cheaper online, how long before the stores we love close forever? A year? More like a month, or even weeks... it wouldn't take long.
What will the streets these stores decorate start to look like with “for lease” signs being pasted in windows?
How many salaries will be cut, forcing families to reduce their spending, or even leave town?
What will the long-term impact to the town or city be, when brick and mortar stores close?
Would you rather save a few dollars, or...
- Save (and encourage) the experience of shopping in-store?
- Save (and support) the families of brick and mortar stores?
- Save (and help flourish) the community you live in?
Here in Squamish I can’t imagine Cleveland avenue without @wildandheart and the Chieftain plaza without Stylezone @squamishclothing. In Campbell River there are the brave mothers behind @westcoastmamas who just opened a second location. These ladies curate locally made, sustainable products by mothers for mothers.
Bewildher's own lack of storefront is proof of how hard it is to take that leap. I look forward to the day when my little brand has grown to the level I can hang a sign in a window saying “come in, we’re open”.
In closing, I hope that you’ll spend the next 60 seconds imaging you’re favourite boutiques going out of business. How does it feel to walk past their boarded-up windows, to see the empty space through the cracks where someone's livelihood used to be on display in vibrant colours and textures?
On a positive note, I have a wish for you this holiday season. My wish is for you to feel the sense of fulfillment that comes from helping others - there is no greater feeling than the gift of giving, and when you give your dollars to locally owned shops, you're giving those store owners and their families a happy holiday!
Shopping season's greetings xoxo
Nadine at Bewildher