But there is another advantage to shopping local that is not always talked about, and that is the access to local expertise can prove invaluable.
One such example of a local expert is Mike Woodcock from Absolute Sound in Chatham. Recently Geoff Wright from Chatham-Kent Economic Development stopped in to test Mike’s skills with a classic turntable that was in need of repair.
“I’m like anyone else, I love to shop in all kinds of stores and even online, but when it comes to finding someone with specialized equipment and experience you just can’t beat shopping local,” said Wright. “I have been shopping at Absolute Sound for years and Mike is one of the best in the business. He was able to restore my record player to factory-grade quality and to my exact preferences.”
Using a combination of years of experience, refined skills, and tools such as laser adjustments, Mike carefully tuned aspects of the turntable cartridge such as the overhang and cantilever to ensure the best possible setup. Doing this helps to ensure that the sound is the best quality, and also the wear on the record is minimized.
“This is my passion, I’ve been doing it since I was 19 and I’m not in this to be rich, I’m doing it because I want to help people,” said Mike. “I’ve spent years studying the physics of how sound works so I can provide expertise and knowledge that can’t be found by just clicking a ‘buy now’ button on a website.”
Mike continued by saying, “I work with my customers to earn their trust. When they come in, I can show them and have them hear the difference between equipment. Armed with that knowledge, I invite them to go and check out the box stores. They come back because the quality of the gear I stock beats the other gear hands down, and often at a price point equal or better.”
While the Internet has certainly improved access to information, and websites such as YouTube have helped to foster a community of self-reliance, there are still advantages to having access to answers about specific questions in the community.
“I’m here to help and to inform. If there is someone who is not 100% certain when they leave the store if they have the right thing for them, I put their money aside in my store and tell them to call me in a few days if they want a refund. I have yet to have anyone who wants their money back,” said Mike.
“For me it’s all about knowing that I’m getting the best advice. Yes, the Internet is a wonderful resource, but it’s also a place where a person can spend hours, even days, trying to find the answer to a question that a local business owner will know in 30 seconds,” said Wright. “Mike saved me quite a bit of money recently by fixing an amp that was damaged rather than just throwing it away. That’s the sort of service that you can’t just find anywhere else.”
“I have people who come in all the time with amps from the 70’s saying that they want to replace it because it crackles or is not working properly. If the equipment is well made, I let them know that it’s worth fixing because it’s still valuable,” said Mike. “A two hundred dollar amp from the 1970’s, when restored, can sound better than a thousand dollar amp made today.”
To help promote buying local, the Small Business Centre is running a Shop Chatham-Kent campaign for the month of December. Every day a feature business is being shared online with the hashtag #ShopCK to help people see options for supporting shopping local.
“I shop local not just because it supports the local economy, helps to create jobs, and reduces the impact on the environment, but also because it means I will be able to continue to access experts such as Mike” added Wright.
For more information about the Shop Chatham-Kent #ShopCK campaign, visit the Small Business Centre at http://www.cksmallbusiness.ca.
Mike Woodcock from Absolute Sound, Chatham setting the angle of the needle on a turntable from the eighties.
“I carry only the best equipment at every price point. If it’s an amp for a few hundred dollars, it’s the absolute best amp at that price. We’re called Absolute Sound because I demand the absolute best.”
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
124 Thames Street
Chatham, ON N7M 5K8
Phone: 519.352.8401 x2039