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March/April 2003

Field of Vision
    from the editor

Replacement on Aisle 99
by Penny Beverage

This winter, something big happened in the town in which I live. We entered the world of towns that are homes to Super Wal-Marts.

At first I was ecstatic. Since I’d first shopped at Wal-Mart when I was 16, the store has served as the Mecca of everything I need: CDs, magazines, appliances, etc. You name it, they have it. Yet even after visiting this behemoth retailer, there was always a second stop on my way home, at the Food Lion. You see, the store that had everything for the lowest prices around, didn’t sell groceries and groceries were very much a necessity.

But that all changed approximately a month before Christmas. Our first Super Wal-Mart opened on Nov. 18, providing our town with one store that has it all. There are very few things you can’t purchase at the store. It is great for consumers, but if you ask its local competitors, they will tell you it’s a nightmare.

While all of them are still doing well currently, there’s no telling the long-term effects the mere existence of Fredericksburg Super Wal-Mart could have in this region. The effects on the little guys—the mom-and-pop convenience stores and supermarkets—could be ghastly.

Many independents in the auto glass industry have been experiencing this same phenomena for years as they are forced to compete against chains and franchises throughout the United States. These large companies often offer lower prices against which smaller shops find it difficult to compete. And they capitalize on the advancements in computer technology in ways small companies don’t. Some owners of small shops say the very existence of these larger companies (and their alleged steering practices) affects how much work the small shops receive.

This issue is devoted to independents shops fighting for survival in a world of large chains and glass giants. On page 16, you’ll find the official program of the Independent Glass Association’s Independent’s Days Glass Show and Convention (IGA Show), which will be held in Reno, Nev., February 5-7. I hope to see many of you there. Please stop by our booth and say hello.

Once you’ve glanced over what’s to come at the IGA show, find out what’s in store for independent glass shops across the country—and where they are now—in regard to some of their hottest issues, such as steering, low profitability and safety (see "Here and Now").

The newest addition to the AGRR editorial staff, assistant editor Kristine Tunney offers a look at telemarketing in the industry. She explores its ups, downs, costs and even some tips on how to make the most of telemarketing.

Finally Steve Coyle of the Performance Achievement Group provides an overview of some difficult installations he and his fellow installers have encountered and some of the best ways to deal with them.

Hopefully, as you’re reading the issue, you can find some pointers for surviving and growing your shop in today’s fast-paced world of Super Wal-Marts, wholesale centers and other big chains. See you in Reno.

P.S. I hope I’ll also see many of you at the National Windshield Repair Association’s Annual Conference, which will be held at the Las Vegas Hilton February 22-23. 




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