Small Retail vs. Big Box vs. The Internet…

An announcement of a chain called Book World that is closing its 45 stores is symptomatic of what is facing much, make that most, of our retail world.  Shopping centers are downsizing or closing completely.  Manufacturers with owned retail outlets are suffering.  Small communities are threatened with the loss of their ‘downtowns’, the very center of those communities.  A drive through the rural areas of your state will prove that to be true.  Some of those communities simply do not exist except for shutdown buildings, maybe a schoolhouse that is closed due to consolidation and a couple of bars and gas stations.

This represents a significant number of jobs lost and those are not easily replaceable in small towns.  In fact, those buildings will likely remain empty and eventually fall down from lack of care.

There is a revolution taking place that began a few years ago and is now approaching what appears to be its pinnacle (except we’d be fools to believe that it is near its pinnacle).  Retail as we know it is changing under threat that if it doesn’t change soon enough and significantly enough, it too will die out.

The Amazons of the world have made their presence felt from bookstores to department stores to you-name-it.  The ‘drone delivery’ revolution is still in its infancy but almost assuredly will become a big deal.  The idea that a local delivery service now is willing to gain entry to your home to leave your packages safely inside is astounding.  That the idea is meeting with excitement by people who aren’t at home during the day is amazing.

Drones will soon be everyday objects in our world and those drones will be engaged in heretofore unimaginable activities.  They will obviously be able to drop packages on your front step.  They take pictures of anything and everything that is within sight.  They are used by police departments as traffic ticket conveyances that are there but beyond our ability to see until it is too late.

Drone shots are daily fare on our television news and sporting events.  We see them used in World Series games and by hunters to find game and by merchants to bring us things we bought online.

We are living during multiple revolutions.  Ours is the first cluster of generations to experience this kind of exponential change in so many areas at one time.  Business closings are but one symptom/result of these changes.

The old admonition about trying to take a drink from a fire hose is useful.  That is quite pointedly what we, as a civilization, are attempting to learn how best to do, and how to live with these changes that evolve into the past nearly every month…or so it seems.  I think back to the time of the Guttenberg Press and of how world-changing that was.  That invention is dwarfed by the world of today.  Communication evolves monthly in this world rather than by the century.

There are losers and winners when such things happen, and downtown main streets are showing the results of that with empty storefronts galore.  Given the pace of change, we are nowhere near anything but the beginning of this wave, this revolution.

Truth be told, I am several generations behind in several areas and will not likely ever get caught up because everything is changing far too rapidly and I am slowing in my adaptability to things new.  But what a ride this is!


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