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The other day our microwave quit working.  It was 10 years old, I wasn’t heart broken.  It is an over-the-range style microwave where there is just barely enough room above the range for tall pots.  To start my search for a new appliance I started looking at the local stores: Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, etc.  Our current unit is broke, it will be good to pick one up today and get it installed.

I quickly found out that microwaves seem to be bigger these days.  Most of the models are taller and deeper than our current model.  As I said earlier we are tight on space as it is, so a bigger appliance isn’t a great idea.  It’s not surprising the broken model is no longer made, thought there are similar models and they are basically the same size!  There we go I have found the model we are looking for.  Online inventories says they have one at Lowe’s and Menard’s, so off to Lowe’s we go.

I packed up the family and drove down the street to Lowe’s.  We get there, wait around for someone to be available to help us, and find out that they actually don’t have that model at the store.  Ugh.

We go back home and I leave solo to Menard’s.  The wait is longer at Menard’s.  There seems to be no workers around the appliance area.  The sign of no commissions I assume.  As I look up and down the isles I see the exact model we are looking for. This is a great sign. I continue to wait and wait.  Finally someone comes by who doesn’t work in appliances but offers to help anyway (thank you).  No units on the shelf and the computer says they have one, the floor display.  Damn.  There are two at the Morton Grove store, too bad that is 16 miles away through city traffic.  No thank you.

Sitting in the parking lot I do a quick search for the model on line.  I find one at good store for the same price as the local ones.  People always say to support your local communities , etc. so what the heck, lets stop at a few places on my way back.  Needless to say nobody has them in stock.  Many have display units and can order them, but none in stock.

This is just silly, why would I order this appliance from a local store, which comes to a higher total cost after tax and “brick and mortar” charge, when I can just order it online myself.

All in all, I probably spent two hours (on my solo trip) trying to find an appliance and found nothing.  To me that seems to be a great fail and a large reason why the local stores cannot stay in business.  It is just costs too much to keep a bunch of stock on hand.  What would be a better business model for say Sears, is, no, sorry we don’t have any right now, let me order one from our warehouse and have it shipped to your house for the same price listed here.  You should have it in three days.

Much better customer service.  I don’t want to order something, wait eight to fourteen days, and then also make my way back to the store.  A model like this doesn’t work any longer and the stores need to learn this.  You need to embrace online sales, make them part of your overall delivery method.

People still love to walk around stores, touch and feel the products.  Stores can’t remain competitive with all of the overhead required to keep these stores open.  So their business models need to change.  If any one of the stores I went to today would have given me the option to order and receive the unit in the mail, I would have done it and saved myself a bunch of time too.

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