Retail stores dropping like flies

It’s time to make shopping fun again

By Bill Colvard -

Store closings are coming so fast and furious it’s getting hard to keep up. On Thursday, Macy’s and JC Penny were the most recent following Kmart and Sears at the end of last year. So far Mount Airy looks to be one out of two: Kmart bit the dust, but it looks like JC Penny will survive to fight another day.

It seems our local Macy’s is going to be spared from the closings announced Thursday. And I use the term “local” loosely since the nearest Macy’s is in Winston-Salem.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in that store. And I like Macy’s. It’s not that I don’t go to Winston-Salem to shop. I go every week or so, just not to Macy’s. Or Sears. Or JC Penny. Or any of the other companies that have announced store closings.

The Winston-Salem outposts of these stores seem to have been mostly spared. Not that it means anything to me since I never go to them but if any of these retailers are interested in why I don’t shop in their stores, I’ll be happy to give my opinion.

I’d tell them I know they’re freaked out by online shopping. And to make matters worse, people are shopping on their phones now which means your customers could be literally buying what they need from Amazon while looking for a parking spot outside your store. So you’re losing them before they even get through the door. But you know that. And you’re working on improving your online shopping, aren’t you? You’d better be or you’re toast. But, as I said, you already know that.

Now I’ll tell you something you may not know. Make shopping fun again. Short on details but sounds good on the surface. A similar slogan worked big-time not long ago.

I’ll go one better and get a little more detailed. The first step is get your stores out of malls. Malls are not fun. They are aggravating time-sucking black holes of misery. Which makes them the opposite of fun.

As you may have guessed, I hate malls and I don’t think I’m alone in this. I never go to a mall if I can help it. It’s just too big of a commitment. Getting in, parking, finding the store you want from the hundreds of stores that look exactly alike and all have the same merchandise, and if you actually do find something to buy, you have to schlep all your crap around while you are trying to find more crap and let’s be clear, if I do break down and go to a mall, I’m going to buy everything I need for a long time so I don’t have to go back again any time soon.

Worst of all is the ever-present threat of zombies. Not those cuddly zombies they have nowadays. Crazy, mean, dangerous George Romero zombies. Of course, that last one might be just me.

I’ve only needed to go to the mall once in the past 12 years and during part of that time, I had a teen-age daughter. High school girls in the aughts still thought malls were fun. But she’s grown now and I don’t see any need to go back to the mall until my granddaughters develop an unquenchable desire for Hot Topic, God help us all.

So Macy’s will have to survive without me as long as they keep putting stores in malls. I like the Herald Square Macy’s. It’s located on an actual street which one can access from a sidewalk. That’s where stores belong. It’s only a couple of blocks from Penn Station where I used to catch my commuter train and it was not uncommon for me to pop in for a shirt or a saucepan or a gift of some kind on the way to or from work but it’s going to take a helluva lot more than a shirt or a saucepan or a gift to get me into a mall.

And I used to love going to see Santa at Sears when I was a little kid. The Sears store in Winston-Salem was downtown back then and you parked on the roof. Now that was fun. That curvy ramp up to the rooftop parking deck was like a ride at the fair. But then they moved out to Hanes Mall and it’s just never been the same.

So listen up retailers. Get your stores out of the malls and back on the street where they belong. Online shopping is here to stay and you just can’t compete on convenience. You’ve got to compete on experience and malls are a bad experience.

Make shopping fun again.
It’s time to make shopping fun again

By Bill Colvard

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