Surviving in a dying industry with powerful customer service

“My parents trained me to be kind to customers. There are many kinds of customers. Some are very rude, but you have to stay cool. When I do business, I do business honestly, and give prices that are fair. If I buy something wholesale at $5 and sell it at $10, but the customer is willing to buy it at a discount, then negotiate a discount. You have to give them a bargain and always be flexible with your prices. As much as possible, if people come in, I don’t want them to leave empty-handed. As much as possible, I want to sell them something.”

In the age of Netflix and widespread downloading, it may seem a bold move to dive into the business of retailing DVD’s. Just as the VHS was considered endangered technological creatures during the late 90’s, DVD’s appear next in line to be victimized by the rapid change of consumer behavior and digital technology. Interestingly, small-business owner Egbert Yap proudly reported that, “Business has been down 30% because of piracy and illegal downloading, but I am surviving.” It’s because of how Egbert does business.

Upon entering Egbert’s shop at the corner of Glebe Pt and Parramatta Roads in Sydney, you immediately realize that he loves to mix things up. Amongst the colossal towers of DVD’s stacked from floor to ceiling, you find multitudes of toys, collectibles, and action figures of your favorite characters; they add to the shop’s vibe.

So, you have your DVD’s ranging from age-old classics to modern favorites, from obscure cult classics to popular anime series. But as you walk among this wide selection, those Disney characters, anime icons, superheroes, and villains keep watch. Browsing through the shop is an experience in itself – often a nostalgic one.

Unlike the image of a typical salesman who aggressively pursues his customers, Egbert chooses to treat his customers with honesty, kindness and flexibility. It’s an attitude that he picked up from working under his father, who retailed watches back in the day. “My parents trained me to be kind to customers,” he said. “There are many kinds of customers. Some are rude, but you have to stay cool.”

And what makes Egbert’s style of doing business more engaging and personal is his openness to bargain. Prices in his shop are not inflexible. Instead customers are invited to engage in friendly haggling. From a business point-of-view, this tactic was effective for selling products precisely at the cost at which his customers value the products. It’s worked well for Egbert over the years, drawing customers to return.

As a man who always wanted to be a retailer from a young age, Egbert today treats his business not only as a full-time job, but as a pastime. He said, “My pastime is to come here. It is like a hobby. I only close when I am overseas during holidays.”

When he started, the store didn’t have much displayed on the floor. His collection has since grown from 4,000 to 10,000. The size of his collection has even outgrown the number of shelves and racks he could fit into his shop, but he finds ways to keep them all available for his customers regardless.

When you visit Glebe’s DVD’s and Collectibles, enjoy the experience. Just watch your step.

Liked this story? Visit Glebe’s DVD’s and Collectibles at:
Cnr Glebe Pt Rd & Parramatta Road
Glebe, Sydney
NSW 2037

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