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Anger in the Face of Retail Contraction

When we had three stores, one of my regrets was that we didn’t strategically plant one in a larger urban area.  In the wake of the story we carried here yesterday — an independent store in a very large city where I formerly would have given my eye teeth to have a location  — it seemed to strike very close to home.  As it did I found myself getting angry on two fronts:

First of all, how do you explain to some 70-year old woman who has never touched a computer in her life — and wouldn’t even know how to turn one on — why she is being penalized for the change in buying habits of others?  Her weekly trip to the store to pick up a new fiction or Christian living title is the highlight of her week, and now that’s being taken away from her.  Terms like “online shopping” and “commercial website” are completely foreign to her.  You have to ask, would she even “get it” in terms of what’s happening?  It is rather unfair that she has to pay the price for a technology she doesn’t embrace.

Secondly, I got to thinking how in 1995 the book industry was basically targeted for decimation by people with no previous history in bookselling.   And it was done with no initial stock commitment; they simply uploaded databases from all the major publishers.  Before online shopping, when the “big box” stores opened, people talked in terms of “category killers.”  Well they killed this category.  It didn’t happen to paint.  It didn’t happen to pants.  It didn’t happen to the same degree to pots and pans.  It didn’t happen in similar fashion to hardware.  It didn’t happen to tires.  But the book industry was a sitting target, a target that was systematically and swiftly picked off.

Photo: UK Bookstore Guide

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  1. May 25, 2011 at 5:35 am

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