Monday, June 26, 2017

Has American Retail been Reduced to a World of Three Super Powers?

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Michael Christopher Scott to a multiracial individual • a day ago

Reagan and the Democrat congress compromised. They both wanted more spending, each for their own reasons, so they got both. They still had to pick and choose. Caspar Weinberger had some tough calls to make. One proposal was to refit and modernize the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (now sunk off Florida as an artificial reef). This would have cost some $850 million, back then, and she would still not have been able to operate F/A-18 Hornets. It wasn't worth it, as the F-8 Crusader was already gone, and the A-4 Skyhawk going the same way. The Des Moines class cruisers were considered for refitting, but they didn't have the midships deck space for a heavy missile battery, quite unlike the Iowa class battleships, which were refitted, and proved quite useful.

The economic boom that resulted from lower taxes seems to have helped, though the effects took some time. We had a recession in Colorado in the early 1980s, in part due to the oil shale bust hurting the banking industry. Parts of downtown Denver looked like a ghost town. The real-estate bust hurt us 20 years later; the US-36 corridor between Denver and Boulder had plenty of new, unoccupied business space, and strip malls in Colorado Springs became vacant.

Part of what happened here was merely hideous business decisions. CVS bought out Long's Drug. I could get stuff at Long's I couldn't find anywhere else in Colorado, like packaged wonton soup and Nalley's canned chile.They closed every store here down, renamed them in California, and only kept the original name in Hawaii, due to name recognition. There was one about a mile from here.

Egghead Software did something similar. The big-shots decided they needed to close so many stores, and that number exactly matched the ones we had in Colorado, so they closed them all. There was one about a mile from here, just north off Academy from what used to be Long's Drug. That building is still empty. It's not in good shape anymore, so I reckon it's an eventual scrape-off.

K-Mart is gone from the Chapel Hills Mall. That's an anchor store. It was, anyway. Borders Books shut down nationwide, so that's also gone from Chapel Hills. I'm almost never there anymore. I suspect Sears and Target are circling the drain. When I needed a replacement drive belt for a vacuum cleaner, Sears didn't carry them anymore, so I had to mail-order them from Amazon. I got a package of 10, so I don't think even my daughter will run out. I even had to wait 30 minutes at Sears before anyone could answer my questions. I could have saved a drive and some time doing it online first thing. The hell with those people, if that's their business model.

The last time I was at Home Despot (spelling deliberate), I got repeatedly waved off by someone on the telephone. I screamed at the top of my leather lungs, "I'll drive the f*****g f**k home and call you then, or maybe I'll just mail-order it from Harbor Freight." I'm not at a store to wait while some punk is on the telephone. If I am physically there, I take priority over anyone on the phone, because I will otherwise leave right away. It turns out that I have policies, too. If I am physically in the store and want to spend money there, the bastards on the telephone can wait.

Yes, I am a curmudgeon. I highly recommend it.

Question Diversity [Countenance Blogmeister] to
Michael Christopher Scott • a day ago

We're in a situation where, while there are obviously retailers other than these three, the American retail sector is down to three real superpowers, the sort of which the sector catches cold if any one of them sneezes: Amazon, Wal-Mart and Aldi. And each one of them thinks of the other two as its sworn mortal enemy.

I know Sears/K-Mart is definitely circling the drain. Target is on some down times, but there will always be room for a national big box presence not named Wal-Mart just to provide an alternate to Wal-Mart. But, Wal-Mart seems like it's going to rule the roost in the mainstream big-box retail space for a long time, just as Amazon will do for online and Aldi for inferior goods (economics definition, not moral definition) for foodstuffs and sundries.

Several weeks ago, at one of the many evening networking get-togethers and parties that I'm obliged to attend, I heard one degree of separation gossip that clued me into this kind of thing. Someone at the get-together had just recently been to another when he was in earshot of some regional mid-level managerial munchkin for Wal-Mart, who was fuming about something that was overlooked about St. Louis's newest Wal-Mart location (in the Kenrick Seminary area, for those of you that know) -- The mangler said something along the lines of: "We wound up putting our new store next to a f**king Aldi."

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