Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Maybe They Deserve to Die?

The title is harsh, but do we ever really stop to consider it.  Or are we just overcome with nostalgia that we can't see past it.

I mean, how many articles have we seen over the past several years that millennials are killing everything.  Mayonnaise, fabric softener, American cheese, the golf industry, paper napkins, Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonalds, Home Depot, Applebees.  The list goes on.

Now we have them to blame for the death of the brick and mortar store apparently.   And it seems no store is immune.  No business that can be treated as safe.  Even Pizza Hut is closing as many as 500 dine in restaurants to focus on delivery and take out.

And in all of the uproar, all I can think is that isn't this what we expect to happen, especially in free market capitalism?  Isn't that the point?  Tastes change and businesses change with them.

Why are we lamenting the deaths of big box, national chain retailers?  Of mediocre chain restaurants?  Is it just nostalgia?

I'm going to miss eating inside a Pizza Hut, no doubt.  That was the go to post show dining.  Once a production had wrapped the cast went to Pizza Hut, to play music on the jukebox, sing annoyingly loud, and eat tons of pizza.

But there will still be lots of places to get pizza.  And there is no question that the best pizzas do not come from any of the chains.  The best stuff is from places like 3Ds in Canton.  Austins' Pizza in Austin.  Johns in New York City.  Lou Malnatis Chicago.  Even the little whole in the wall by the slice place in New York that was the only place open in Snowpocalypse.

To me it seems we mourn the wrong things.  Why do we mourn an Applebees closing its doors more than a mom and pop diner that has local business owners closing?  Why is it sadder that JCPenney's might close than it is that your local grocery has been replaced by a chain?

Why are we more attached to impersonal brands and faceless corporations than we are to the independent business owners who make up our communities?

Especially when many of these chains have brought their slow deaths on themselves.

For the greatest example, it boggles the mind that Sears, the first great disruptor in retail could not have envisioned the way to stay relevant in the age of Amazon.  You're telling me the pioneer of the catalog, the first great purveyor of interstate sales and shipping, could not have seen how their catalog could become a web store now connecting the globe?  Why should we want to prop up a company when others have committed to how they should have changed?  Sears viewed their stores as an asset, which they could have been.  With their network of stores, they could have easily led the way in next day delivery, same day pickup (or drive up and have employee put in your car pickup), and potentially even same day delivery, years before Amazon could have gotten there.  Their stores are now an unfortunate liability that has them overextended.

Look, I do not want to diminish the impact of the lost jobs on the community or the loss of revenue for those employed in such chains.  But I do wonder why we feel these national chains are supposed to be immortal.

What's so special about an Applebees that we need an article for its obituary due to millennial tastes?

Maybe it's just me, but count me out of the list of mourners.  For me, I'll mourn the local bookstores, the local hardware stores.  The family restaurant.  The family business.

Those are getting harder and harder to run, to compete, and to stay afloat.

That impact is personal.

Shop Small.

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