I’ve been a mentor to a young man with a genetic illness, for several years, and one of our regular outings is going to Best Buy. He likes to browse the DVDs and occasionally the CD racks. Our most recent excursion there led me to believe that the days of Brick and Mortar stores are more numbered than I’d thought. It was a ghost town that evening in that Best Buy which is smack dab in the center of the San Fernando Valley with literally millions of residents. Is Brick and Mortar dead? Has Online Shopping taken over retail?
We’ve already seen the demise of most brick and mortar book stores and most computer stores, too, it seems. Department stores have merged or gone out of business and the days of the Five-and-Dime store are golden memories and long forgotten in today’s Amazon, buy-it-online world.
I’m not even sure whether I believe the death of brick-and-mortar stores is a good or bad thing but I suspect it trails along with the demise of many forms of real life interactions. How we communicate with each other has obviously changed dramatically. In many ways, it’s wonderful and incredible the ease with which we can communicate anywhere/anytime and with any one in the world.
Conversely, I worry that the “art of conversation” is dying, that kids will communicate simply via acronyms, and even writing a letter is a dying/lost art. Everything seems to be done in shorthand!
But, it’s the physical stores that I will miss. Barnes ‘N’ Noble seems doomed. Borders is gone. Record stores are gone. Browsing the aisles in a large bookstore may be joining the extinct dodo bird and others bygone joys such as the Drive-In Movie. Books may be on hand – in very select supplies – at our big box stores such as Walmart and CostCo, but the stand-alone bookstore seems destined for the trash-heap.
Starbucks will eventually carry a little of everything, I suspect, but the variety of choice will be limited to online sites, I fear. Will “browsing” even be a part of anyone’s shopping experience except perhaps at (food) markets or the few remaining big box stores that people will still need for their daily essentials? Heck, some markets already offer delivery services. Will they disappear, too?
I have a powerful memory of the May Company store that was a fixture for decades on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles. The elevators had uniformed attendants that announced, “Ladies lingerie, Women’s Clothing” when we reached a particular floor. That store was one of the largest ever on the West Coast and, to this small boy, it was a wonderland. Somehow, I don’t think our kids have that opinion of their local Target, Walmart, or CostCo, though I will admit to being a recovering CostCoHolic. Recovering because our family-size is diminishing since my oldest left for college and our needs for large supplies of anything have lessened.
I guess my fear with this so-called progress is that “community” will diminish and disappear along with many of our favorite individual stores and store chains. We’ll still have movie multiplexes, I suppose, though the ease and quality of home theatre is potentially going to affect that experience as well. To a degree, I already prefer watching most movies in our modest home theatre.
When the quality improves even further and the access to current movies is even quicker, will I really want to bother driving to and going to a movie theater? I don’t know. We already eat out less often than we used to. Perhaps the only regular outside activity that my wife and I engage in is golfing and skiing, with her golfing frequency out-distancing mine and my skiing being more frequent than hers. Nonetheless, I don’t see either of those activities virtualized.
Is Brick and Mortar dead or simply on life support?
How about skipping that $5 Starbucks latte and splurging $2.99 (for the Kindle on Amazon) or $2.79 for the PDF of my new e-book? Enjoy my own informercial for it! This e-book is really a virtual journey. It’s filled with 100 photos, 7 original videos, and links to many of the stops on the trip. Click on the book cover image below to find your purchase options: