Whenever I hear that a favorite 'mom and pop'(MAP) store of mine shut down, I become very sad. I feel almost as if a part of my culture died; and then this fierce debate ensues in my mind one side of which says that we need to keep up with time and the other side says that we should have some local flavor. The former says that chain stores will provide better prices, availability and service. The latter says that the personalization provided by the MAPs can never be replaced by the chain stores. Yes there are times when while shopping I like to simply pick up stuff from the shelves but there are other times when I'm confused between two brands/products and would like to get a second opinion from the shop keeper. Or I don't feel like going all over the store picking, instead I just want to hand in my shopping list to the shopkeeper and collect the stuff in an hour. Did I forget to write the particular tea that I wanted? Not to worry. Being a regular the shopkeeper knows my favorites. You need a minor alteration to a product? No problem, the shopkeeper would be happy to do it.
Let's look at the advantages of chain stores. Availability? Agreed they have a larger stock of given items but I think when it comes to variety the MAPs beat the chain stores. Price? That's one aspect where the chain stores win, at least in the short run. Service? I think there's 50-50 balance here. Things like Returns are better handled at chain stores.
So what do you think?