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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Target Corporation (TGT), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Which Type of Shopping Is Better?

Clearly, everyone loves mom-and-pops. There’s every reason to love mom-and-pops. What we’ve found is that the most successful Main Streets in the U.S. are about half mom-and-pops, and half chains. No one wants to go where it’s only chains, but in fact no one wants to … I buy my clothes from Banana Republic [a The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) company]. I know it fits me. I know I’m not going to have to deal with surprises. I think more and more Americans feel that way, so you have to have those shops to bring people downtown.

What we’ve seen in American retail is that — perhaps this is a more useful answer for your question — what we’ve seen in a lot of American retail is that there’s the shopping that is purely expedient and serving a purpose that you need served, but then probably half the shopping you do and more than half the money you spend is for the experience.

Shopping is actually the main way that we entertain ourselves. The typical thing people do on holiday is shop, so the market has gone in two directions. It’s gone toward the big boxes and the mail order, and it’s gone toward the Main Streets that can offer that sort of experience.

People pay extra in order to have that experience, and that’s why I think there’s a continued viability of that inefficient model.

Pino: You can add retail analyst to your resume now.

Speck: Not really.

Pino: Anything else that you wanted to discuss before we wrap up?

Speck: I wanted to make sure I addressed all of these issues.

Pino: I did read the book. I don’t suppose that my article did it justice, but it’s excellent and it goes into a lot more depth, of course. I highly recommend it; it’s an interesting read.

Speck: Are there any other questions?

There’s lots of other things on this list I would like to talk about, but I don’t want to … what time is it?

Pino: Yeah, we should probably get wrapping up.

Speck: Oh, yeah. My wife’s about to pick me up in the SUV.

Pino: All right, well, on that, thanks for coming. We really appreciate it. Thanks for your questions. Thanks a lot, Jeff.

Speck: Thank you all.

The article Mom-and-Pop Vs. Big-Chain Shopping: Is One Better? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Isaac Pino.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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