Change. We all hate change. And yet, like it or not ... whether we plan for it, design it if you will, one way or another things do change. For several years now, it has become a kind of media mantra ... we are letting our fingers do the walking across our keyboards instead of than using our feet to walk at the mall. Business magazines say in 5 years 1 out of 5 malls will close in the United States. Many already have. I live a mile from one that closed a few years ago. It looks like some kind of beached whale dead in the desert. The signs are everywhere ... talked about on TV, magazines, newspaper articles and of course on the Internet.
Macy's is closing 150 stores, J.C. Penney's is on the brink, Sears announces that they may not survive in one year or maybe two. While you can call, and I did, you even have to book your Amtrak tickets on line. We won't even talk about the havoc with the travel business!So you might ask, where do we shop?
That's avery good if not loaded question. The grocery world was rocked when Amazon announced that it was purchasing Whole Foods Markets, better known as Whole Paycheck Market. What? Amazon the company that pretty much put retail book stores out of business buying one of the priciest chains in the country? I can't wait to see.
|... and the cupboard was bare!|
|Must have been a good sale or? |
was it Black Friday
Going to my local Walmart yesterday after not finding all I wanted at Aldi, what I saw, on a Monday afternoon was pretty grim in groceries and for that matter, the rest of the store.
There were lots of things in the store but obviously the things that people were wanted were not, they were already gone and from the looks of things not soon to be replaced. And sometimes, what was left you wouldn't have wanted anyway. Well, Walmart has part of the mantra right; if they don't have it you really do save money; there's nothing there to buy! This was not the only part of the store that was bare, or we used to say in retail ... ragged. Their pharmacy department is simply a disgrace. What I have pictured here is nothing new. It always looks like this. And when you inquire it's like the three monkeys ... hear no evil, see no evil, talk no evil. In several minutes of inquiry no one knew anything.
Would you drive there for this? Save you time and gas,
look for it online. It is always there, somewhere and
What is their plan? How are they going to reverse the slide that is rapidly moving from a trickle to a flood? It certainly won''t be stores such as this.
Before I hear some grousing, these photos were taken Monday afternoon after a normal school weekend. You can only guess what it would look like after a holiday weekend. Around one bin of budget DVD's three, yes 3 "associates" were counting (mostly chatting) a nearly empty bin. All around them were similar scenes.
Its this kind of behavior that has customers flocking to the Internet. What they order is always there, the items should be of the highest quality or that company is doomed and often it can be delivered on the same day! What's not to like? Sitting in a robe on a chilly morning or a dark wintry night with a cup of tea or coffee, munchies at hand shopping. The world and just about everything in it is available and you don't even have to leave the house.
Here is just a sample on Amazon of the choices you can make ... electronics where you can have Alexa place your order, food, books, movies, music and more, much MUCH more.
Are we lazy or just so stressed for time that at least for now this seems to be the solution? I will say one thing, another run to a store like this and I might be ready to give it a try.
However, it was just a few years ago that Walmart was the biggest retail store in the world. Tales and studies showed how when a Walmart entered your town just about every local store closed because they couldn't compete, mostly on price or variety. (Which begs the question just how much variety do we need?) There were also studies made on how to compete and win against Walmart but not many listened. How many small folksy stores have you entered where not one employee even acknowledges your presence? If they don't at least greet me I won't buy a thing. Yet I will return to a store that has given me good service. Even if its more expensive. I have learned in my long life that price and quality are usually not compatible. I have also learned that good "enough" and reliable with inexpensive brands, think Casio over Rolex, often works just as well. Is a Rolls Royce really all that much better than a Chevy Impala? Consumers Reports doesn't seem to think so. The current Chevy Impala rated a 95 out of a 100 while a Rolls Royce costing over 10 times more is merely ok.
Internet sellers had better do their homework too. Walmart, General Motors and just about every company around has been the big honcho at one time or another but was soon eclipsed. In the 50's GM had 56% of the American car market. They told us that "what was good for GM was good for the United States." Now it's good for Toyota who battles Volkswagen for largest carmaker in the world. Similar mantras were espoused by the big banks. After 2008 they are universally hated and many might agree, they need to be broken up. Walmart was the biggest retailer in the world. A visit to your nearest one may tell another story. Microsoft seemed invincible and yet they have lost the smartphone market, and while healthy in some product lines have had massive failures in others.
Apple stores are fun. You can use every single
item they offer and advice is free. Big Box stores
will have to make coming to their stores compelling
to a younger generation.
I read recently that the newest Nordstrom's won't have clothes racks. Instead you will meet a clerk who will somehow find out what you want and show you those items, like a personal shopper. That could work. A customer would have a meaningful relationship with a clerk and a store. I remember that when my ex had a shopper at Nordstrom's she got real deals and was well dressed. I remember a local men's store that was like that as well. I would walk in and my usual clerk would show me what he thought I would like. He was rarely wrong either. I miss that.
For me, the only downside in this new shopping age is that whatever I buy online seems to appear as ads in my Facebook stream. I resent that invasion of privacy. Its bad enough that there are many times more ads than ever before, now, we are subjected to additional ads based on what we purchased. What I purchase is my business and doesn't need to be shown to the world. I never buy from these ads. What I buy, either in the store or online is initiated by me. I make it a point to never click on Internet ads.
|The new rating service|
Some big box stores like Lowe's or Home Depot will most likely continue. Freight alone on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood would cost a fortune. But stores like BEST BUY better watch out. I have yet to walk into one and see things that actually work. And when you ask to see and use a working model there aren't any ... ever. The batteries are always dead, its not plugged in or there is a working model on the wall but none on the shelf. Yes you can see TV's in action but what about a phone, camera, some kind of player? I gave up on them years ago.
If I read about something, and I know I am not the only guilty one, I go to Amazon and read the reviews ... and not the good ones either. I zero in on the 1 or 2 stars. What are their experiences? Why the bad rating? If is something I can live with I either order it there or if I can't wait the 2 Prime days will return to the store, assuming, of course they have it and I don't have to wait.
Retail is rapidly changing. Retailers need to reinvent themselves like the original Macy's did in the 1880's. Their concept was to put everything you needed in one place rather than walking to a variety of different stores. Empires were built and put many small independent businesses out of business. The paradigm is occurring again. Change is the order of the day and so could be their demise.
Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ... KrugsStudio.etsy.com. Many of the items talked about here are for sale there!