Social Media Social Good: Brick and Mortar is Dead

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

Buying online infographic brick and mortar

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?

Retail is dead comic

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.

Showrooming is looking at a real store but buying online

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.

What kids are buying online infographic

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?

May Company store on Wilshire in Los Angeles

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.

Pushing and Shoving when shopping cartoon

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?

I hate sad endings comic

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:

Dealing with The Empty Nest

  • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

    There may be a real danger in having our sense of community diminish. My hope is, though, that our electronic connections will facilitate greater face-to-face interaction in our immediate communities. People still need the human connection, whether sharing a conversation in a coffee shop or browsing a store looking at books. We just need to continue to guide the way through our actions. Thanks, Bruce! Jon

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I couldn’t agree more, @JonMertz:disqus

  • http://thisbeast.com/ netster

    I do not like to visit shopping mall all that much. I probably will only visit once every three month or so if it is not because of the wife demand. Thing may change since that we have got a baby girl now, probably we would want to bring her to experience new thing and shopping mall might be a good place to start.

    In my place, bricks and mortar will not be dead just yet. In fact, it just started. We do not have much choice here, places we go are usually the same one. However, the small groceries store we normally go are now replace with the big one. We do miss the small one because of the childhood memories.

    I love to shop for software online. I spend quite a bits last month for the discounted Mac software. We do not have a physical store for software and even if we have, mostly it is pirated software and for the original copy, we do not have much choice.

    I guess your world and mine are two different world. While brick and mortar are starting to drop dead in favour for online shopping at your place, here however, we have bricks and mortar & online shopping both slowly taking over the town.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m sure @netster:disqus things are quite different in our respective countries but I bet WIVES are much the same EVERYWHERE!

      • http://thisbeast.com/ netster

        ROFL WIVES :D hahaha what would we do without them? <3

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          @netster:disqus – I refuse to answer that on the grounds my wife will KILL ME!