Rochester, NY-based Cooks’ World has been around for almost 40 years and has seen the market ebb, flow and change during those times.
Second-generation owner, Chris Wiedemer (his father, George, opened the store), is part of GC Buying Group’s retail advisory panel and has been a voice for issues that have been plaguing the independent gourmet housewares channel.
One of those issues that has become increasingly prevalent, said Wiedemer, is price matching, which is part of the greater MAP pricing issue that has been affecting the independent channel more severely in the last few years.
“We need a more level pricing field,” said Wiedemer. “I can’t have the perception that [a product]is $10 more in my store when they can get it from Walmart or Wegman’s for less.”
Wiedemer said that while he will never be able to compete with retailers that have large warehouses and deeper pockets, he has been turning to price matching to help him win a customer over. While he doesn’t openly discuss price matching or advertise it, he does offer it to those customers that ask or those he is able to engage while they are shopping or showrooming.
“I feel like I am going to have to ramp up my price matching to stay competitive,” he said. “I do it under the radar right now. If we know that a customer is on the fence about making a purchase, we will match the price.”
However, online pricing and showrooming can play a part in lost sales. Wiedemer said sometimes he and his staff don’t even know the customer is checking prices at other stores or online retail outlets while they are browsing the store.
“If we don’t know that someone is looking on another site or looking at another store’s prices and they leave, that’s a lost sale and maybe even a lost customer. We don’t even know they are looking to go down the road,” he noted.
That being said, Wiedemer said he plans to be more open about price matching in the future to combat the potential for lost customers.
“I will live and die by the local business. Thankfully, it’s strong. But [price matching]is one of the things I see us doing all the time and I want to leave the store in really good shape when I retire,” he said.
Cooks’ World will celebrate its 40th anniversary in April.