Monday, January 30, 2006

WalMart Rafting Company?

My grocery store is closing down. And another big chain will be closing throughout California, too. Both were major grocery store players here in the West. Both gave consumers fair prices. Mine was just down the street. Close enough to walk to or ride a bike. It had all the sundry items that run my household. The store, also had bulk items. I preferred to purchase there because I got tired of the Costco-warehouse concepts since I usually purchased too many unplanned items that ended up costing me more money than necessary. You know what I mean... lots of wasted cheese, bread, produce... more than my family could ever processl Sure the paper goods were available at less than the cost of the grocery store, but who wants to waste an entire pantry to store toilet paper or sacrifice your small garage to stacked boxes of canned goods? So, I always bought from my local grocery store. According to the store's representatives, the bottom line was affected by the WalMart phenomenon. The two stores could no longer compete with the giant retailer.

Now what does this all have to do with the rafting industry? In California, there are two major players in this industry. Both are swallowing up every mom and pop rafting company in the state. Both have spread their wings and purchased permits and other companies to position themselves as the numero uno force on their respected rivers. The only difference between the two is that one plays fair and the other is the WalMart of the rafting industry. The white hat one has a great rafting company with a great website. They market and position themselves well in the search engines. The other wears a black hat. They create marketing that fools the public and causes harm to the industry itself. They find loopholes in the government's permitting system that allows them unfair advantages and skews their river usage. They have worked the industry to a point that no one dares to go up against them. Even large rafting outfitters fear them.

So why is a small company like W.E.T. River Trips posting this diatribe? Because we are a true mom and pop company... been around since 1978. We are so proud of our size and what we do for our clients. We have this funky website because we can't waste our money. Sure, we have some great positioning on the web... but probably because our site is soooo old. We put the money in the best gear, boats, vehicles and our employees. We pay our staff very well, and we don't save money on their backs. We work with our government agencies because we understand that the rules are there to protect the consumer and us. We don't try to circumvent their efforts and we don't try to fool our paying public.

The consumer is not as unsophisticated as so many internet marketers believe. The consumer is smarter than you think. They know when someone is "mess'n" with them. Those of you who have supported us; we appreciate it greatly. You have allowed us to cope with the daily assault from the WalMart-rafting-company. We continue to grow slowly without fanfare and without destroying our competitors or our precious rivers. We don't need to take everyone down the river... just those of you who have the same sense of community and giving that our society so desparately needs.

And by the way, on your way home today... stop by that coffee kiosk that's owned by the friend of your neighbor or stop at the community-based grocer who grills the best tri-tip... just quit frequenting the starbuck/walmart/bigassrafting companies out there in your universe... and we'll see you all soon on the river!
PEACE:: Mom and Pop at W.E.T. River Trips

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