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For a Small Electronics Business, Black Friday Just Another Day

DES MOINES, Iowa - It's business as usual on Black Friday each year for Traviss Audio & Video in Des Moines.

"We tell customers every day that we're competing with, not only chain stores, Internet, online shopping, every day. So, it's nothing new for us," said Randy Traviss, co-owner. "All in all, it's really no different than any other day during the holidays - we're busy all the time."

These guys have run a small electronics shop since 1949, and in all this time, they say customer service keeps them in the race against the big-box stores.

"A lot of customers have been coming to us for years, and they're coming to us for knowledge, or information, and for service - after and before - the sale," Traviss said.

"I think small businesses compete on something very, very different," said Drake University associate professor in international business, Matthew Mitchell. "They compete on local knowledge, they compete on building relationships, and really serving the really niche needs of their local customers. Big box stores just can't do that."

According to Mitchell, since the Recession, there's been an uptick in support for small businesses; what's more, the onslaught of online shopping doesn't seem to be a problem for anyone but the big-box chains.

"It is a problem for big box retailers to compete with these smaller stores," he said. "But if you're in the 'Buy Local, Go Local' mood, this is a great thing. And it's really a renaissance for our local businesses."

In fact, Traviss says his store hasn't taken a hit from online shopping at all.

"Brick and mortar stores are viewed as a showroom for people to come and shop, and then buy online," he said. "And actually, the trend over the last couple of years is actually the opposite; people will shop online, and then come into a store and look at it and buy it."

At the end of the day, a small electronics store can compete - if the people who run it are willing to put in the work.

"Whether it's Black Friday, or Super Bowl weekend, or any other time of the year," Traviss said. "The bottom line is, you've got to be there everyday to compete."