Online marketplace beats retail experience

Lack of knowledgeable retail clerks, uncertain stock, keep customer away from downtown

Re: Space for Lease (News, Sept. 6)

Regarding your recent front page article on the difficulties of operating a retail store downtown, let me give you a customer’s perspective.

In my experience, retail businesses fall into two broad categories: those who employ BARTs (Barely Acceptable Retail Teenagers), whom there is no point phoning because they don’t know anything about the products they’re selling, and those who employ professional salespeople, whom there is no point phoning because they’re run off their feet answering the questions that all those BARTs couldn’t answer.

The customer is therefore left with three choices: drive to a downtown store and pay $5 for parking (or pay $5 for transit and waste an extra hour in the bargain) only to discover that the store doesn’t have what you want; drive to a mall or store in the suburbs and pay nothing to discover that the store doesn’t have what you want; or buy online where there are fulsome descriptions, real-time inventory reports, customer reviews and (more often than not) free delivery to your doorstep.

The choice is clear.

Robert Smith



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