ALL OFFICES AND STORES. New York, June 9, 1916.
There was a time in the 5 and 10c business that the word “competition” was one that never entered the thoughts of the men in this business and a letter never was written that contained that word.
These were days of peace as compared with what came up later. After Mr. Woolworth was well launched in his 5 and 10c business career there were other men who began to see the possibilities in this character of business and with the living example of what was being done, started also in the 5 and 10c business, (but not as competitors,) as they started their stores in towns where there was no other 5 and 10c store. This was a condition that could not last for so very long, as the more stores that were started the more people came to see their success, and in a few years real competition started – competition, because the later stores were opened in towns where the originators of the business were already established.
The real competitor was never an originator but a copier, he copied the style of the originator’s store to the most minute detail. He copied as near as he could the methods of doing business and planted his stores as near as possible to that of the originator, thinking that with the same general appearance real customers could be fooled into doing business in the copier’s stores instead of the originator’s stores, and, in this belief they succeeded to a more or less degree in certain localities.
It may be said without fear of contradiction that copying is not learning, copying is not a method of education, copying can never meet with any great or permanent success, because the fundamental principles are not there. To learn we must study and experiment and success comes only through the greatest of all educators; experience.
We have had now, our experience with copiers, competitors, and imitators. We have seen them spring up like mushrooms in a night to go down in a short time from lack of principle, lack of capital, lack of the backing which in our business comes from the original idea.
We will not enumerate the copiers that have started out to continue only for a few days, a few weeks, yes, in a few of the most exaggerated cases, a few years.
The great European war has brought about a condition such as never was experienced since the origin of the 5 and 10c business. Such market conditions were never experienced before in our history, yet the sales from week to week, and from to month show that we are making a better showing than for any previous period. We are selling the goods because we have the merchandise to sell; we are getting the goods because we are one of the greatest retailers in the world. We get preference in the market because we can pay cash for our goods and because we will be doing business at the old stand long after the great war is over. (
(1150 copies) Continued)
ALL OFFICES AND STORES. New York, June 9th, 1916
With the people who try to imitate our methods, copy displays, and compete with our business it is quite different – they can’t get the goods to sell; the prices they are obliged to pay for similar goods to ours are so high that they cannot sell at a profit. Their managers are leaving their stores in disgust, their temporary customers are coming back to our stores. Some of their stores are being closed; they can’t stand the expense which eats up all the receipts, say nothing of the profits. The long and short of it is, our copiers, imitators, and would-be competitors, are on the downhill run and are going down at a faster rate than most of us are inclined to believe, nevertheless they are going, and going fast.
Now it is the small, imitator that hurts you as well as the big one, and many of the small imitators have closed their stores since the first of the year 1916. The big imitators are finding the going very hard and in many instances have closed their stores and have resorted to selling higher priced merchandise, and will continue to find it harder going provided you are there, as manager of the Woolworth store to make this fight for supremacy the hardest in our history. Don’t miss this opportunity to make this fight a finish fight, for it is an opportunity we never had before. You have received letters from your district offices outlining the work to be done and the methods to pursue and the reason for this letter is to impress upon your mind more forcibly, if possible, the necessity of doing all you are told and more, to make this job a complete one. Later we will publish a list of firms that have discontinued business and a list of stores that have been closed.
Nothing succeeds like success. We will be successful as long as we continue the original idea: sell no article at a higher price than 10c and give the greatest value possible at our retail prices OF 5c and 10c. It is in the 5c goods that lie the greatest profits.
Yours very truly,
J. Frank Nutting.
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(l) (1150 copies)
J. FRANK NUTTING.