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The good fight Battling mass merchandisers doesn't scare these tire dealers
Alpio Barbara of Redwood General Tire Service Co., Redwood City, Calif., is the former president of the California Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association - North.
Several years ago, when price club competition was causing consternation among many independent tire dealers, Barbara said flatly that the Price Club that moved in a mile from his store gave him an advantage.
Here's how he handles the competition:
"Meeting the competition of mass merchandisers and price clubs is an ongoing challenge for the independent tire dealer.
"Montgomery Ward, K mart and the Price Club are our toughest competition.
`We all know it's impossible to have `the lowest price.' If he shops long enough, the customer will always find someone who will undercut your deal.
"In our market, a local wholesaler also operates three retail stores. Their advertised tire prices are 4% to 7% over our so-called wholesale price. The Price Club offers slightly lower prices. They now offer mounting, but we service many of the tires they sell.
"We emphasize total car care, convenience, customer service and after-sale service, not price. We have had several successful advertising campaigns in our daily newspaper pointing out the differences between our service and that of the Price Clubs.
"Our original campaign featured a direct comparison with a Price Club.
"It showed their high membership cost, `find-it-yourself' tire hunt, lack of sales staff, long lines, cash payments required, etc.
"We emphasized our customer-oriented shop with …