Saturday, May 20, 2017

“You can't stop the future

You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
...is to press play.”
   
~Jay Asher
The retail world is facing uncertainty as the Gen Xers and Millennials shun the shopping mojo that the baby boomers relished.  Rewind to those days when a group of women would meet to shop, eat, and socialize.  Now, socializing is drifting through hash tags, Instagram, and Pinterest.

I confess I have neglected the shop and this blog for many months.  I was immersed in my teaching and waiting for April the giraffe to give birth,
 but I also will admit that I was stymied by the retail scene.  I was trying to wrap my head around where I wanted to take my shop.  I was bored...I will admit it...and I was looking for inspiration.  I was seeing merchandise in thrift shops priced higher than what anyone would pay in my shop, and, if you said something to a helper, the reply was..."well, we saw it on the internet, etc etc etc".
Here is a sweet vintage casserole, but $18?  $10-$12 perhaps on a good day in a shop.  Why not price to move?  Or, is there a fear of someone buying it and flipping it for more in a store or back to ebay?  Who cares?  It was free to the thrift shop!  Not to mention, the area is hemorrhaging year round residents.  Giant "lego" houses, as I call them, have taken over the islands, and the mainland lacks year round employment to support local housing and living.  Retail and restaurants pay the price of ghost town mentality in the off season which lasts almost 9 months now...and we are not birthin' anything in those off months.

But, after 26 years, I have seen the small retail shop go through some serious dynamic changes.  Ebay was probably the first stake in the retail fence.  What was rare in one part of the country was abundant in another, and no one factored in shipping costs...that always boggled my mind!  For vintage and antique merchandise, ebay became the price guide, and price guides have been discontinued except for Kovels.  But, just because somebody listed something on ebay at a certain price, or someone paid an exorbitant price does not mean that is what something is worth.

Then, the Antiques Roadshow added another stake.  Now people thought that Grandma's treasures were worth thousands...even Grandpa did not rate her treasures that high!  With the recession, many people decided they would become shopkeepers and flocked to the newly designed co-ops where the owners were glad to collect rent, and the new retailers were happy to make their rent never understanding that they actually lost money with that mindset.

And do not even get me started on dealer discount!  Many antique/vintage dealers simply add in extra to take it off for the infamous "can you do better?"  No one would think of going into Home Goods or Marshalls or any other major department store, and immediately ask what is your dealer price.  Price it fair to start and move on. 

Enter the cable TV shows...DIY...HGTV...and Rachel Ashwell and her boy toy...Queer Eye...Design Stars...among others on TLC and Bravo.  Even now Flea Market Flip tempts the viewer who does not realize that workshop is staffed with professionals who help the buyers pull off the "flip".  (Don't try that at home with your significant other.)
Image result for picket fence
So, many stakes continue to create that fence that surrounds the small brick and mortar shop in the 21st century.   TJ Maxx is opening a HomeSense which is already the name of a chain owned by TJX that operates in Canada and Europe and is similar to HomeGoods in the U.S.  That does signal that they believe people will shop, but HomeSense stores will be located near TJX’s other inexpensive go-to stores, so customers can conveniently “shop both.”  No need to spend a day roaming about.

And, of course, the point and click world of buying now...Wayfair, Joss and Main, A+R, H & M, and at least 40 to 50 more...but who is counting?

Let's not forget...Buy American...make America great again...why pay $60 for a handcrafted necklace made by an American when one can pick up a Chinese or India knock-off for $6.99?   When an item says "Made in America", consider that you are supporting a neighbor so to speak, not a Chinese laborer making pennies in a foreign factory.  Granted some Chinese products need to exist in the retail world, but do not walk away from American made if you do like the item. 

So, you can see what has been brewing in my head these past months.  I needed to vent so that you are aware of not only my feelings but some of the challenges facing small shop owners everywhere.  Be kind...retail as you know it may be facing a different future, and the small independent shops are trying to find that niche to keep customers happy and to maintain the small shop ambiance...and I am trying to regroup, and, as Maya Angelou writes...
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”