Very recently a customer came in store with a problem on their saxophone - there was an irritating squeaking noise on one of the keys. Within 10 minutes, we had identified the problem and fixed it - it was something and nothing and when the customer asked how much, we said "it's free, don't worry about it". If you've been a regular customer in our store you'll have witnessed this plenty of times, people with emergency repairs taking an exam in half an hour or got a concert or gig that day - we rarely charge for small jobs and see this as a way of building up customer loyalty - WRONG!
This particular customer was delighted that his sax was fixed and it didn't cost him anything - a convenient local shop to drop in and have your instruments fixed on the spot. We got onto the subject of reeds and informed him we were the same price as Reeds Direct and other internet "discounters" - he turned around and said "I get my reeds from Amazon - sorry they're cheap". Needless to say, we were slightly put out by this response particularly after not charging for our services.
We have particularly noticed a decline in our clarinet and sax reed sales of late and thought we'd investigate! After half an hour of surfing the web we found that our prices are virtually the same (sometimes slightly cheaper) as Reeds Direct, Amazon and a host of other online sources - we offer FREE first class shipping and more importantly, you DON'T have to buy full boxes of 5 or 10 reeds from us - all of our reeds are available as singles so you can pick'n'mix for different brands and instruments.
Therefore we are bemused why so many customers are buying online from other sources - surely if we're the same price but offer a better service (FREE shipping and singles) it would make sense to support the "local" guy where you can benefit from quick, often free repairs, advice and so on.
Of course, we appreciate we're a small, independent store and cover all aspects of woodwind (instruments, accessories, sheet music etc) - we can't stock an abundance of specialist reeds like Riggoti, Francois Louis, Marca etc but we do cover perhaps 90% of what people want, namely Vandoren, Rico, D'Addario and so on.
If you read this blog, please pass it on and share - small businesses need those little orders to keep going.
Bottom line - we don't think Amazon will fix your sax today for free.