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Accessories / May 2, 2019

Wal Mart and the Swimming Pool IndustryThis is one of those articles that may not win me many fans in the swimming pool industry, but I'm frankly OK with that. I write about subjects that are on my mind-subjects that I feel are true and have merit, and this is certainly a subject that I've been thinking much about as of late.

A few years ago I was driving through our town with my wife and we passed by a movie rental store called ‘The Movie Gallery', which, at the time, was one of the largest chains of its kind in the country. Notwithstanding, as we passed this particular store I told her with a slight frown that I knew they would be out of businesses within just a few years. And not only would The Movie Gallery be out of business, but so would Blockbuster and every other business that shared such an antiquated business model.

Fast forward a few years. The Movie Gallery has now closed all its stores. And yesterday, I read in the Wall Street Journal that Blockbuster would soon be no more.

I do not mention this little story here to infer that I'm any smarter than the average Joe. I only say it because the movie rental industry, because of innovations like Netflix, The Red Box, and Pay Per View, is no longer viable. It can't work the way it used to and that's just the facts- which in many ways mirrors the swimming pool industry and brings me to the point of this article.

Times Have Changed

I love the pool industry. I really do. I love what it does for families and I've developed great relationships with many pool builders and retailers all over the country. Notwithstanding, when I take a hard look at the world as we now know it, I have a strong feeling swimming pool retail stores may soon be practically extinct, and here are five reasons why I've come to this conclusion:

1. Big Box Stores and Wal-Mart

One of the biggest hits swimming pool retailers have taken over the last 10 years has been the shift of consumers to do practically ALL their shopping at stores like Wal-Mart. Yep, despite their lack of service and knowledge, the Big Box stores are able to offer pool chemicals at prices that are often times 30% less than what a normal pool retailer could. For consumers, the choice between Big Box vs Joe's Pool Shop comes down to a debate between spend more and get much better help and service, or spend less and get no service at all. Sadly, especially with the difficult economy, Big Box often wins. Heck, I've had scenarios where customers came in our retail store to have their water tested and then drove directly to Wal-Mart to buy their chemicals.ouch.

2. The Internet

Just like Wal-Mart, online swimming pool stores have the ability to sell chemicals for much, much less than a normal brick and mortar store can. Despite the fact that online companies typically have practically no hands-on service, their growth over these last 10 years has been unbelievable, making it harder and harder for the mom and pop pool stores of the world to survive.

3. Salt

The popularity and rise of salt chlorine generators has scared some pool retailers for many, many years. In fact, there have been quite a few chemical manufacturers that have tried their best to hurt the image of salt water systems by spreading bogus claims regarding their negative impact on swimming pools. But regardless of this, salt chlorine users have almost no need for chemicals other than salt and a few water balance chemicals-hence the major concern of their introduction to the US market a few years back.

Source: www.riverpoolsandspas.com

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