Store wants $5 browsing fee to deter "showrooming" by online shoppers

A specialty food store in Brisbane, Australia posted this sign, demanding a $5 deposit from people who enter the shop, refundable with your purchase. They are trying to curb "showrooming" -- when customers of online businesses use brick-and-mortar competitors as showrooms to check out goods before they order them. As Consumerist points out, this is likely to be a self-defeating strategy:

If customers aren’t buying, the seller needs to figure out why and adapt accordingly. If this store’s prices are truly the best, then maybe it should be offering a price-match guarantee. If it truly offers products that aren’t available elsewhere, then how are these showrooming shoppers buying these items from someone else? Perhaps people are just curious and want to see the prices and have no intention of buying anything anywhere? Think of how many times you’ve looked at Amazon just out of curiosity. Window-shoppers are part of the retail equation; it’s up to the retailer to either ignore them or turn them from looky-loos into bona fide buyers.

I'd go further than this. It takes a lot of retail exposure to turn some browsers into buyers -- you might see something in a shop, think about it, and go back.

Further, getting people into the shop is a significant expense for most businesses. Once a person is in your business, you have lots of opportunities to try to convert that person into a buyer, in an environment that you control (see NYC Fifth Ave retailers, who run their escalators in an alternate-reverse pattern so you have to wind your way past all the high-impulse goods and displays to get to the top floor; or grocers who put the milk at the back of the shop). Adding literal barriers to entry is utterly self-sabotaging.

Finally, the idea of imposing a head-tax on everyone entering the shop is especially misguided. It means that a customer who thinks he can talk his wife/kids (or husband, friends, whatever) into accompanying him into the shop while he grabs something on the way past is doomed to not making a purchase. What's more, the retailer loses the chance to convert some of those tag-alongs into customers.

Store Combats Showrooming With $5 ‘Just Looking’ Fee [Consumerist/Chris Morran]

(Photo: BarrettFox on Reddit)


  1. Maybe if their merch wasn’t priced at double what it is online they would have a point. It does inform us that online has to do a better job visualizing merch.

  2. All the more reason to shop online/ go to the compition instead. Shopping around, checking prices and deals has been around long before online shopping. Putting in a browsing fee to deter that is simply absurd.

      1. Smart retailers would offer price matching with amazon, best buy, newegg, AND offer a terminal at the register to conduct the price matching.

        You mean smart retailers should be going bankrupt for the privilege of serving you?

        I understand trying to squeeze every penny out of the owners and employees of local stores. After all, we know that workers who serve our on-line needs are treated like this [Mother Jones], so that we consumers can pay the absolute least amount possible.

        But I would hesitate to call the sort of tax, employment and real estate shenanigans that would be necessary to be able to charge on-line only prices in a retail environment “smart”.

        After all, Walmart comes in for a fair bit of criticism, and it at least pays local property taxes, state taxes and local employees.

        1. Actually, Frys pricematches against online stores. They don’t pricematch against crazy dodgy places that are more likely to rip you off than give you real product, but they pricematch against anyone who’s clearly legit.
          I pricematched my UPS with Amazon, and got $100 bucks off. It was faulty, and I got a replacement the same day, without having to pay shipping to return something insanely heavy, because I’d got it from Fry’s instead of Amazon.

          Fry’s offered me the best of both worlds, on the condition that I was willing to do the legwork to pricematch, and spend the extra time having the sales assistant in the department doublecheck the pricematch was legit.

          This seemed like a deal I was willing to accept, and in return Fry’s have my loyalty. As if they wouldn’t already have it, for being the most awesome geek-out shopping experience around here.

          1. Fry’s is impressive, almost legendary.

            However, it requires a several factors that are not generally replicable to most retailers to be able to make the matching offer. Namely being in a fairly high-price, high-volume, low-margin business (making it hard for on-line vendors to offer significant discounts in percentage terms..)

            Still, I suspect if too many customers start asking for price matching (and they aren’t playing games like different model numbers for on-line/off-line), they’ll be in trouble anyway.

            The cost matrix is just too different to be able to match on-line consistently.

          2. They told me that Office Depot was not a competitor and refused to pricematch my tablet.  They also will not match the price on Fry’s own website.  
            Maybe they have changed, but I felt the “pricematch” was just a gimmick and they wouldn’t follow through.

      1. So they increase their costs by needing yet another employee to assist the store.  Nice business model.

        1.  Point Of Sale…it’s not the clerk’s fault the business owner is a POS (not point of sale this time) unless the clerk is the owner then yeah, both POS work…

  3. They should charge per photon that bounces off their stuff and hits a person’s retina.

  4. What are they going to do if someone refuses to pay?
    If I saw this sign at a store I wouldn’t shop there, there is nothing in any one store that you can’t find somewhere else so why shop at a place that begins your visit by being antagonistic?

    1. Unless you’re going in with the intention of buying something that you know you can only get there (in which case the fee is pointless).  So… pointless or self-defeating – take your pick.

  5. I understand brick-and-mortar stores are hurting, and I think it’s unfortunate because when I’m out and see something I want I’m actually more likely to buy it right then rather than ordering it online. With the latter I have to pay extra for shipping, and wait a few days (or a few weeks) for it to arrive. And hope the delivery service–whether USPS or UPS–gets it to me intact. Call me old fashioned but most of my online shopping is reserved for things I can’t find in a nearby brick-and-mortar store, or, very rarely, where the price difference is significant and I can also wait. Of course it’s increasingly the case that I can’t find what I want in brick-and-mortar stores. I’d rather browse a real bookstore than Amazon–if I can find one.

    In spite of all that if I saw a sign like this in a store window I’d read it as, “We don’t want your business.” In a brick-and-mortar store being able to browse is a feature. They’re treating it as a bug.

    1. Yup. What you said. 

      Now the problem is less and less actual stores (the local Best Buy is gone now), and the ones that are still here, well, they “can order it for you”.

  6. “Ok- I need some ideas, throw them all out there, brainstorm…”

    Loyalty program?
    Online coupons?
    Free samples and merch for buying customers?
    Display our contempt for the customers and begin a cover charge system which makes online shopping even more attractive?

    Phase 2: charge a “thief deposit” to be returned once the customer has proven they haven’t stolen anything.

    1. Phase 3:  Don’t actually stock merchandise, just charge fees.

      It’d be like a great mystery, drawing people in from far and wide.

    2. That sounds exactly like this local sports store we’ve got. (They’re closing next month). They treated everyone with anger, charge way more than online, and then when you say anything, they give you this line: “Yeah but we’re local. Don’t you want to keep the money local?”

      Sure, but I also don’t want my money to go to jerks. Just because you’re a neighbor doesn’t make you deserve anyone’s business.

          1. The big sign has to be a reference to that. I mean, it actually says A local shop for local people.

  7. I have a similar problem with stores in the US like BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s club that require a membership fee for the privilege of shopping and buying from their stores.  Screw that too.

    1. I have been allowed in to check if an item’s available at Sams & Costco just weeks ago. They didn’t have what I was looking for, anyway!

      1. I have a Costco membership and can never decide whether spending roughly 10 cents less per gallon on gasoline is saving me anything or whether I’m a big rube.

        Something I’ve noticed, though, is that for all the time they spend looking at my membership card when I go in I might as well be holding out a folded index card. And that’s assuming there’s someone at the door who’s even bothering to check. If there is you can also slip in with a crowd.

        You need a membership to buy anything, but you don’t need to be “allowed in” to browse, or even to feast on the free samples they’re handing out at every corner. 

        1. You can also always use the Pharmacy, member or not ( its the law, and it is WAY cheaper ) – and in TX and several other states, you can buy alcohol, member or not. 
          That being said, Costco, at least is not remotely the same thing.  If you are a single guy in a small apartment that never cooks, it’s a bad deal.  If you need enough things that you can buy there, the membership fee is a drop in the bucket.  

          This bozo is just customer hostile… though, of course,  I live in Dallas, and I could see some highland park “ultra boutique” using it to discourage “the masses” so they don’t disturb the important people.  

          1. I could live off their pizza pizza and hot dogs happily. Thought he same could be said of Ikea :D

          2. The way to deter the masses is not to price any goods so the customer has no idea how much they are spending until they pay.
            Charging an “entrance fee” is simply cheap.

        2. They’re really just making sure you have your card so you don’t hold up the line at the checkout. They never keep you out for not having one.

    2. You don’t need a membership to shop there. Just say to the person checking cards, “I’m buying a membership when I check out.” You can browse as much as you want, although you can’t buy.

  8. And at the same time Microsoft and Sony think they can release consoles that do not allow you to play discs. So you can’t try your buddy’s game out. Or resell a game — Colonial Marines! — that turns out to be a 60-dollar ripoff.

    If I was a competitor of that store – or Microsoft or Sony – I would see a huge, beautiful glowing opportunity for my business to carve off meaty chunks of their market share.

    Man I wish I knew how to design a game console right now.

        1. You don’t need skills – a PC with controllers and hooked up to your television works as a console.  You could always buy games through Steam for their “big picture” television mode if you want an especially console-like experience.  Of course console hardware is cheaper, as it’s subsidized, but they make up for it with per-unit fees on games (and policies to discourage used game sales).

      1. Well, that would give one a retro console game experience, which is great if you want to play SNES or Sega Master System games.  Not too useful for games made after 1990, however.

    1. You have a citation for that discless Sony cosole or is this more misinformation taken from rumors before they revealed the specs of the PS4? Not to mention Sony has already stated, since the reveal, that they are not blocking used games.

      1. Yes I know the specs for 720/Durango and 4, but you too know they’re moving that way for the 5 and 1080. They’re already testing out the balance point now with Arcade and Network. The safety they will already have is the download of disc contents onto the system and the internet connection. This generation, while it will have a disc reader, is certainly going to be capable of closing Gamestop, stopping all eBay used sales, and eliminating your ability to share a game with a friend. Whether they implement it, or how fast, is going to be pretty twisted to watch.

  9. What are they trying to recoup?  They’ve already spent money on the bricks and mortar as well as the displayed goods. If someone is just looking, what is the charge against variable cost? Why not get as many people in the store as possible?

    If you offer me good selection, FAIR price, and and exemplary customer service, you can be sure I’ll buy my goods from you.

    A cover charge ensures that I won’t.

    1. By FAIR price, do you by any chance mean one that’s the same as an online retailer who doesn’t charge sales tax or have to cover the cost of a physical showroom without which you would never have bought the product because it’s the kind of item you just can’t evaluate properly based on a retouched JPEG and a spec sheet?

      1. No, I mean a fair price. I mean one that is within, say, 10 percent (as a ballpark, spitball factor). I much prefer to buy things from B&M and revert to online only when I can’t find what I’m looking for at a B&M store, or when the price is nowhere near competitive.

        That’s why I didn’t say the same price.

        1. How do you know 10% is fair (even as a ballpark, spitball factor)? *Trained* retail associates, the cost to purchase/lease retail space (which is far more expensive than warehouse space), theft, utilities (heat, water, power, etc.), cleaning/maintenance… these are all items that the online merchants just don’t have to account for. I sincerely doubt that all this can be had for just 10% more than the price an online seller can sell an item.

          1. Wow, people are really being tough on you for no reason Fogbert. On behalf of other Boingers, sorry about that.

            I’m not sure what part of “ballpark spitball” mattapp doesn’t understand, especially when you were nice enough to throw out a number for him when none was needed.

    2. If you offer me good selection, FAIR price, and and exemplary customer service, you can be sure I’ll buy my goods from you.

      I assume by fair price, you mean at least somewhat competitive with on-line only retailers who have essentially no premises, few staff compared to sales, and next to no customer service. 

      Given that many, if not most, retail operations are only marginal operations at best, that’s tantamount to equating FAIR with owners and workers earning almost nothing for the privilege of serving you.

      Sorry to pick on you, but the use of FAIR (of which I suspect most of the posters would have no trouble with) makes it clear that you feel entitled to excellent service for far below minimum wage. 

      I understand choosing price over service.  I also understand show-rooming.  I understand mocking small businesses who make stupid, desperate decisions in attempt to forestall their inevitable demise.

      What I don’t understand is why we criticize businesses like Walmart for demanding that labor do more and more for less and less, when we’re doing exactly the same thing, except that we consider it almost a moral failing that workers don’t sufficiently exploit themselves for our benefit.

      1. Sorry to pick on you, but the use of FAIR (of which I suspect most of the posters would have no trouble with) makes it clear that you feel entitled to excellent service for far below minimum wage.

        Wow. Thanks so much for reading so far beyond my comment and stereotyping me to such an extent that you have rendered me nearly speechless.

        I nearly always choose service over price and also vastly prefer mom and pops to the big boxes and online.

        1. I’m sorry, but FAIR absolutely implies that charging enough to cover real retail wages and cost is UNFAIR to you. 

          I may have read beyond what you feel, but I did not read beyond what you said.

          And, to be honest, even if *you* don’t mean it, the idea that “as long as it’s *me* getting the deal, it can’t be exploitative” is massively widely held.

          The whole “how awful are businesses for shipping jobs to China” when we not only bankrupt any business that doesn’t, but *also* call them greedy SOBs for actually trying to charge us more, really gets my goat.  The FAIR price comment summed up this sentiment perfectly.

          1. I’m sorry, but FAIR absolutely implies that charging enough to cover real retail wages and cost is UNFAIR to you.

            Except that it doesn’t. You are completely and inappropriately ascribing to me what you believe others’ philosophies to be.

          2. The problem is that you didn’t make it clear what you meant by FAIR.

            There’s fair, as in “a price that works for me” and there’s fair, as in fair-trade goods, which is “i don’t mind paying a bit more for something that less exploitative.

            The emphasis just sort of makes it sound as though you’re complaining about shops with high prices (unfair to me!) – mostly because that’s the way most people tend to use the word in that context, rather than any inherent in the word itself…

    3. I interpret “FAIR” to mean “not being price-gouged just because they don’t have competition, and maybe offering, as Fry’s does, a price-match against the delivered cost of the item from reputable online stores and certified resellers; maybe a reasonable markup to cover the extra service they get with fitting rooms, audio testing rooms, and whatnot”?

      Damn right! Sing it!

      It absolutely is possible to give damn fine service and still compete with Amazon. It’s hard, especially in places where property rental is high and products take up a lot of space. But it’s doable.

      And here’s the secret: if you *offer* price-matching, almost no customers will take you up on it! Most will assume that “price matching” means that your prices already ARE on a par with those sources! You win! And those that do price match, well, you might not be making a profit on that sale, but you at least aren’t losing a sale to an online store. And while they’re there, odds are they’ll pick something from those bins right by the checkout, the ones filled with cheap things they might need someday, so then you’ve turned a breakeven into a profit! And then they’ll sing your praises, and you’ve turned them into marketing!

  10. The note is antagonistic, and a total turnoff from purchasing. definitely, yes. So for a store whose business model is about moving inventory, I’d say that it’s self-defeating. HOWEVER, if there does come a time when brick and mortal retail really does dwindle, having live items in a physical showroom could become a valuable service. In this case though, retailers could just carry a handful of each item, all of which are “display models.” This could lead to the similar questions raised in the “Ebay Store” from 40 Year Old Virgin, but I think I could see the day that this would be considered a service. Even in this case though, charging just to walk through the door seems silly. Sell coffee or some other high markup perk and be savvy.

    1.  There have been serious proposals that Best Buy should sell out to Amazon and become the Amazon display store.

  11. Even dumb innovations are still innovations. I applaud his misguided attempts to improve his business.

  12. A great way to accelerate the store’s demise.

    I did find the price of media to be almost prohibitively expensive in Australia. Some of this has to do with the very strong AUD, but it was not uncommon to see (all prices USD):
    – Paperback books (popular fiction) at $25–$40
    – Albums (on CD) at $20–$30
    – Movie tickets (regular, non-3D film) for $18–20

    A lot of this could be mitigated: Penguin classics still sold for $10, Spotify existed (and was $15/m IIRC), and movie clubs at arthouse theaters brought you per-film costs down to $12 or less.

    If I had lived there permanently, it would’ve been cheaper to ship stuff via Amazon from the US than to buy there.

    1. Not only in Australia. I often find it cheaper to buy in the US through Amazon and have goods shipped to the UK. I can save up to 50% even after shipping. There is no booming economy here or strong pound to account for outrageous markups. Sometimes sellers can just be greedy and treat their customers as stupid.

      1.  You want really weird? Buying stuff from is cheaper than

        90% of the time, I order from the american site because the Canadian prices are often 50-100% higher… sometimes much, much more than that. (The record was somewhere north of 20x the American price…)

        1. I always checked both and .com when I lived in the UK. It was often the same. Ordering from the US came with its own issues, though, like lengthier deliveries, and import duties, and having to go to the post office to collect the package and pay the duties, rather than get it delivered to the house.

        2. Not long after I started browsing the web I read something by a librarian who predicted that the price of used books would “normalize” among booksellers who put their inventory online because they’d all be competing with each other.

          Funny enough that hasn’t happened. In fact even among sellers who sell through Amazon prices for the same item in, according to descriptions, the same condition,can vary widely.

  13. Sometimes I’m willing to pay more to buy something locally, if it is even available, because it’s more convenient or I don’t want to wait for shipping. Most of the time, I end up ordering online anyway because what I want is not available. A policy like this would just mean I skip the often frustrating step of checking what is available locally and just order it right away, from a web based store that has price matching, hosted customer reviews, full product information available, convenient access to google and manufacturer’s sites if I have any questions, and a shopping experience designed to be pleasant and convenient.

  14. This isn’t original at all. Porn stores have been doing this for ages. Oh right. So this company takes its strategic vision from porn stores. Maybe they are in trouble.

    1.  Which porn stores? I’ve *never* had this happen, at least in Europe, Asia, and the US. I would have turned right around and left if it had.

      … not that I ever go in porn stores, ever at all.

    1. I thought the jury was still out on how it was working out for the papers. Some guy on (I think it was) On The Media mentioned that the NYT seemed pretty happy with their paywall, and is now bringing in more from subscriptions than from adverts. (He didn’t say anything about their overall revenues, though.)

    2.  How’d that work out for the newspapers?

      So far it looks like paywalls may be the only thing that allows at least a few newspapers to survive.

      Much as I like being given free stuff, I try not denigrate those who are actually trying to get paid for their labor.

      1. I just cancelled my online subscription to the  I started out paying £70 per year for it, read it maybe 20 minutes per week tops, then they racked up the fees and tried to charge me £350 for this year.  I absent-mindedly only noticed when I checked my credit card bill, and asked for cancellation with refund – they tried to say I had to run the subscription year.

        I said ‘Hey!  Lawyer on the way!’ and they caved.

        I don’t mind paying for access, but if it’s not a correct, targeted price for me, I’ll pick up my news elsewhere.  Charge me per article, give me a tailored charging fee – but don’t make me pay for articles on Singaporean shipping when I have no wish to ever see that.

        It’s not denigration – it’s economics.  And if the papers have failed to strategically manage the transition to online such that they maintain the revenue they need, that’s their own stupid fault.

        Just so I’m clear – I think the idiots running the newspapers have time and again demonstrated just how badly they can screw up a business.

        1. I don’t mind paying for access, but if it’s not a correct, targeted price for me, I’ll pick up my news elsewhere.

          I absolutely agree.

          However, the tone of the original post was pretty clear “paywalls are a stupid idea”, when, for some it may be their only savior.

          that’s their own stupid fault.

          Not necessarily.  It’s quite possible that with the advent of the Internet, the the willingness to pay for reporting has dropped below the level to sustain it.

          As has been pointed out, our previous news-filled world was more a coincidence of classified ads than a service for a price.  There’s no intrinsic reason that in the Internet age there has to be a viable newspaper market (or an informed populace), in which case it’s not owner’s stupidity, just technological progress severing the revenue generation (ads) from the cost (news).

          1. Good business people monitor, predict and understand the environment they’re in, and adapt accordingly.  With the news, there were always going to be casualties – but so many papers kept blindly forging on in the hope that the 100 year old model would survive, despite the searingly obvious new realities.

            An easy rule of business is – if your business is going to die, cash out now and return the money to the investors.  They didn’t, arrogantly.  Media empires large and small are heady places.  Stupid people don’t follow simple rules.

            The big loss is the large ecosystem of journalists, the ziggurat, which bred some truly fantastic writers.  Maybe that will still happen, maybe you have some examples.

            An informed populace.  You’ve got to get them to want to be informed.  So many prefer sitting on their mental asses.  Those who want to be informed are probably better informed than ever.  Wikileaks set a wonderful precedent.

  15. While this is the wrong solution to a legitimate problem, I’m tired of people just saying that brick-and-morter stores should just lower their prices to compete against online merchants. Those online merchants don’t have the overhead and occasionally don’t even have to charge sales tax. It is literally impossible to compete with some of these companies on price without driving yourself into bankruptcy. Worse still, what we are starting to see in the bookstore arena is soon going to create a real problem for other products that greatly benefit from customers who browse the merchandise — when retail space becomes incredibly scarce, impulse sales drop. The fact is that the online experience doesn’t properly replicate or encourage that type of purchasing. And, then, what are the online merchants going to do when no one can browse at local retail outlets?

    It’s easy to mock this particular retailer for this incredibly stupid and short-sighted solution to this problem. However, no one else seems to have come up with how to properly address it either — at least, not on a mass scale.

    1. Yes exactly. As egregious and alienating as charging a fee to get in a store can be; how does a brick & mortar compete? There is no easy answer. Price matching is not an option for many stores – how do you compete with an online retailer who actively ignores local taxation rules? I think a possible solution lies in where the strengths of a brick & mortar are concentrated – the ability to connect to the customer directly. I have seen many small brick & mortar stores come and go but the ones who listen to the customers and directly connect with the consumer seem to have more options. Nimbleness, good location and understanding your product & having a variety likely help as well.

      Anyone know if this store tried some kind of value added service to the customer first before jumping straight to antagonism and a head tax?

  16. Yes that is silly and counter-productive, and the wrong way to handle things.
    But… recently I was looking for a new camera.
    Within three miles of downtown Sacramento, there is ONE store where you can actually go in and pick up a camera to see how it feels, get a sense of how big the sucker is, and compare a few. (I remember when there was a dozen.)
    I went there yesterday, and the clerk showed me the two Canons I was interested in (And my, the SI series has gotten HUGE) and suggested other makes that were similar, with the advantages/disadvantages of each.
    So I bought one, and yes, paid about 8% more than I could have bought it at Amazon, just because it’s worth it to me to keep a camera store where I can touch stuff in business.
    No, it wasn’t “double what it is online”, but it was higher. I don’t’ see how it could be otherwise. They had three clerks, who actually knew what they were talking about, and they have to get paid somehow. Small camera stores aren’t a high volume business. And “loyalty programs”, for something you may buy once every four or five years?
    What CAN they do about the people who use their store as Amazon’s showroom, come in, get help from the clerk, look at a few dozen cameras & then say “I’ll think about it” and go buy it at Amazon?
    They’re probably going to go under, because for most people price IS the only consideration, and I will be sad.

    1. This. A camera shop is exactly an example where a connection with the customer counts. I’ll miss them too. 

    2. I’m impressed – 8% more than Amazon is pretty damn cheap, really, when we’re talking about retail.  With knowledgeable staff, I’m doubly surprised.

      1. I was impressed too. I usually set a limit of maybe 20%, depending on how much money we’re talking about, along with services.
        When I bought my TV, I looked at Costco, and checked Amazon, and Costco was actually a bit cheaper, until you added in that Amazon included free delivery, INTO THE HOUSE, and unboxing the thing.
        We live in a Craftsman, with 10 steps up to the front door, and I didn’t envy they delivery people at all.

  17. Browsing is partly what shops are for. How can you tell anybody’s intentions until they have left your shop?This labels everybody as “time wasters” even before they have entered your shop. The level of attention shoppers require seems often to be inversely proportional to the amount of money they are able to spend or to their actual needs. People have always used shops to imagine buying things they could never afford or want in real life. If everybody does not leave your shop happy you are not doing your job right. Flexibility on prices, allowing people some leeway for haggling, keeps all happy.

    Even the poorest person with only a few quid to spend on a second hand pair of jeans from a charity shop needs the same sort of attention to be got spending hundreds in a high end fashion shop. Probably more so.

    Yes. I have worked in shops.

  18. My FLGS (Friendly Neighborhood Game Store) puts their price stickers over the UPC codes so that you can’t scan them with a smart phone and see that you can usually save 25% or more online. While I support, in theory and practice, the brick and mortar importance of an FLGS, this turned them into just an LGS for me.

  19. So, the retailer needs to come up with agreements with on-line sellers to promote their products.

    Every customer that comes into the B&M store gets a card or code that gives them a discount to the online store, then the B&M store is given a percentage of sales based off the use of the discount.

    You could expand outward by offering classes in how to use said products and although it would be risky and time consuming, if you managed to come up with a deal for almost every product, it just might pay off in the end.

    Shit, if you have such a problem with people coming into your store, then give the producers and promoters of said products a little booth in the corner. They’ll figure that shit out.

  20. No one’s thought to mention this, but if online is the issue, why don’t they just start selling online as well?  They already have inventory and all they’d need is to pay someone $2000-$3000 dollars for a simple WP WooCommerce shop and voila, people can come in and browse and buy online and they benefit both ways.  The only thing that’s ever mattered as much as having something people want to buy in your shop, is having a shop that people are happy to visit.

    1. While I don’t know how it might work with this particular store, I would agree that any and all brick and mortar stores need some kind of online component to their business. Whether it’s their own website or piggy backed partnership with someone else (even selling in the Amazon marketplace), it is an absolute necessity. 

      Whether it is used solely as means to get rid of excess stock, or as a showroom or as a way to get locals to come into the store to pick up what they buy online… There’s lots of reasons why you cannot ignore that revenue stream or potential to connect to a customer. 

      Mind you, it isn’t guaranteed money but I cannot imagine a current small business without some kind of online plan. If the old school, mom & pop, non-chain grocery store near me can have a twitter feed announcing sales frankly anybody can do it. 

    2. 1) It’s a chain store. 2) $2K-$3K is not “all they’d need to pay.” That’s the front end. There’s also the entire order processing and fulfillment portion of the venture, plus inventory management and customer service.

  21. I’m reminded of the story about the food vendor who accosted a beggar that was loitering near his stall and demanded that the poor man pay him because he was enjoying the enticing smell of the food as it cooked. A passing stalwart of the proletariat (I think it was a prince in the version I heard but this clearly isn’t the crowd for that) intervened, offering to pay the merchant with the sound of the coins jingling in his purse. Then the tempo of the background music changed and everyone was jingling their purses. It was an early Harlem Shake video. Possibly. I’ve been eating a lot of cheese.

    Anyway, capitalism rocks. If this guy wants to experiment with his business then more power to him. There are cinemas that charge people to watch movies that can be downloaded for free off the internet. What a world we live in.

    If he isn’t hurting anyone he should be allowed to do what he wants. In fact if he isn’t hurting anyone perhaps that’s part of the problem. Five bucks to browse the shop, but also good for a spanking. That’s what I call a SPECIALITY food store. Let’s see Big Internet compete for the BDSM food shopper crowd.

  22. Hey, I guarantee it will work.  I got my roommates to stop eating my food once I smeared my feces all over it.  Problem solved!  Way to think outside the box Retail Store Owner/Manager/Board!

  23. I commend this store for trying something new to combat showrooming. Bravo, Bravo. Consumers have no idea how they are hurting their own shopping opportunities by going to stores simply to browse. We no longer truly shop at stores. It’s part of our “research”, at the expense of the business owner who’s paying the rent and supporting their local community with sales tax, products, business, social experience. The consumer cares for one thing- the most for the cheapest. Go to the store to experience the warm atmosphere, get free advice, a smile, recommendation, then go to Amazon, get more recommendations, feeding our own self-doubt and insecurity about spending our hard-earned money on products we know we don’t really need. This is why Amazon has to sell stuff at their wholesale price just to get you to buy even from them. We walk into stores, with the future notion of wanting a thing, maybe, maybe not, we’re “shopping”, it’s what consumers do for a living, no immediate desire to purchase but we are “shopping”. We radiate the illusion of shopping, but we’re not, we’re serving our selves to the free research all you can eat buffet so we feel the best we can possibly feel about buying or not buying something and not even have to see the sad face of the retailer when we need to go return it. We’re not shopping, we’re researching and we could give a crap about the person behind the counter or the bills the business owner has to pay. At the end of the day, we’ll showroom a mom and pop store who has the thing right there for immediate gratification, on sale, discounted, but because we already touched it, got our greasy fingers all over it, we will go back to Amazon to earn Visa points, get one that’s not been opened before, pay no sales tax, no shipping and yea, we don’t even need to lug this thing back to our house!

    1.  In other words, B&M stores are going the way of the dodo because the world is changing.  Somehow it is the customer’s obligation to protect the business owners, though for the most part business owners feel little obligation to preserve customers’ bottom line.

      I buy where I choose.  I don’t pay cover charge in bars, and I sure as hell wouldn’t pay it in a store.  The store in question is clearly in late-stage decline and will likely be gone by the end of the year.

      1. Not at all. The world isn’t changing just because consumers decide to abuse a retail store’s investment in their inventory and staff and shop elsewhere to save a few pennies and support some far away corporation which doesn’t support their local tax economy or any of their friends and family with jobs, etc.  People are cheap, short-sighted and stupid and want to remain that way, for the most part. We are consumers, no longer makers of anything, not even our own real communities. We consume and when we are not consuming, we’re getting ready to consume.

        I don’t shop at Amazon and I buy locally whenever I can. Im also a business owner that appreciates and reciprocates with my community and consumers do the same.

        This fee for entry idea could be a great opportunity for folks who want to support their communities to do so uninterrupted by those who don’t.

        1.  As my Econ 101 professor loved to say when we expressed discontent with the inequalities of the world – economics is not about what ‘should’ be but what ‘is’. 

          Lots to argue with there for obvious reasons.  However, no store or business has a god-given right to my custom, and it is not because I am stupid, cheap or short-sighted (and bite me for suggesting it).

          There is no obligation on anyone’s part to spend their money anywhere they do not choose to.  I too am a business owner, and I do my best to provide something my customers actually want, instead of whinging that they should just pay me even if my business model no longer works.

  24. Any store that requires a membership to shop there, like Costco, is basically doing the same thing. They just are doing it as a micro transaction. 

  25. Does this remind anyone else of the websites a few years ago that blocked Firefox completely because people might be “stealing from them” by using adblock?  It seems equally inspired.

  26. Hmmmm. . . recently I was looking at a product online and was tempted to buy it, but for various reasons I didn’t.  The very next day I was in a brick-and-mortar store, saw the exact same product, for roughly the same price (even when taking into account shipping costs)– naturally I bought it.  If the brick-and-mortar store had tried to charge me a $5 deposit to enter their store, I would have turned around and left immediately, so they are correct that the deposit will deter “showrooming”, but it will also deter “sales.”

  27. It seems like this notice can only do two things:

    * Guarantee that no casual foot traffic ever enters their store.

    * Broadcast to any non-Internet savvy person that there’s a much better place to shop, and motivate them to find that “other store” this one mentions.

    1. For what it’s worth, the article mentions that her competition isn’t Amazon just but the local supermarket. So much of the above discussion is semi-moot in this case.

      1. Yeah. Also, the specialized nature of the store renders more of it moot, since many commenters are assuming mass-market consumer goods, whereas this seems to be a specialty store where the owner is complaining about basically providing free consultation. In context, her complaint seems slightly less irrational. Her attempted solution seems no less self-defeating, though. 

        1. Maybe she should put up some large, easy-to-read signs next to the products so that people don’t spend so much time grilling her.

  28. What happens if you go into a shop to buy something and it is not in stock?  Now you are out of $5 and need to go somewhere else to find whatever you are looking for.

  29. Wow, I haven’t seen anything like that since before the Internet and then only in adult bookstores where “browsing” was a serious and obvious issue.

    Be damned if I’d shop there, especially if I just happened by and wanted to see what they offered.

  30. This is pretty common at the hippie places around here. Tons of ‘do this’ ‘don’t do that’ notes posted everywhere. Some reasonable, some just completely off the wall. Basically, they feel you’re here for their convenience.

  31. I’m glad to see they are allowing their three year old to Manage the store. Guess who is going to stop shopping there: Everyone.

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