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Thread: The retail apocalypse

  1. #1
    Shezar in MOTUC please! The All American's Avatar
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    The retail apocalypse

    So it seems like many brick and mortar retail stores like Sears, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack, Macy's, etc... are on their last leg right now:
    http://www.mcall.com/business/retail...516-story.html

    And the term "retail apocalypse" describes the latest and upcoming series of major retail closings: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retail_apocalypse

    I've never been a big fan of many of these stores, as I rarely go to malls anymore, but there is something about their demise I find sad. I grew up being dragged to these stores by my family to get clothes, Christmas shop, return something, pick up a catalog item, etc.... I have a lot of memories connected to these places. It's like a piece of American culture and history dying. I went to a Sears for the first time in a long time last week to look at appliances, and the store was dead quiet. It's interesting to see how far these places have fallen. I greatly prefer shopping online, but always liked that these stores still existed, like American institutions. Their business models are outdated, and it's seemingly inevitable these retail giants and malls will be niche at best going forward if they are to survive at all.

    What are your feelings on the coming "retail apocalypse"? Will you miss any of these stores?

  2. #2
    Heroic Warrior
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    I hear you. I went to Sears to buy a new refrigerator about 4 years ago, and the store was practically empty. And, Sears was a store that was thriving back in the day.

    That being said, I don't miss shopping at retail stores whatsoever. Several points:

    1) These days, I really like the convenience of online shopping - it's the best thing since sliced bread! Also, there is the time factor as well. When I was younger I had more time to go shopping at these brick & mortar stores. In recent years, however, my job & other issues have resulted in my having less free time; I also hate driving. So, online shipping is a godsend - given that the items are delivered right to your door without much effort on your part.

    However, even if you want to frequent brick & mortar stores for items, you can't always find them around anymore. For example, I used to be a huge music fan & would buy CD's on a regular basis. And, I would go out of my way to frequent a particular store that carried both used & new CD's; their prices were comparable to Amazon re: new CD's. However, this place closed down a couple of years ago & so there are now very few places around that carry the older CD's I want (i.e., music from the '60's - '90's). So, in some cases you have to go online to buy this material - even if that's not your first choice.

    2.) Going along with this, earlier this week I had to go shopping for food in the evening, and had to stand in line for quite some time at the register (it was an especially busy night). Though there's no real easy way to shop for food online (especially if it's perishable), it's a hassle & so I'm glad I've been able to cut back on having to shop at other brick & mortar stores - due to being able to shop online.

    3.) As a huge movie fan, I love the convenience of streaming & don't miss video rental stores in the least. I have not-so-fond memories of renting VHS tapes from video stores like Blockbuster in the '80's & '90's, and DVD's from there in the 200X's.

    Thankfully, I don't think I've walked into a video rental store since around 2010. The Blockbusters & Hollywood Videos near me closed around that time. The DVD's I used to rent from Blockbuster were scratched & unwatchable half the time, and when I complained the staff there had an attitude about it. Also, I hated those stupid Blockbuster late fees - you always had to rush back to the store to return DVD's/VHS tapes by a certain time or you would get charged. Towards the end, Blockbuster changed this - but you would still end up getting charged for something else if you returned the video late. Plus, at least once my local store told me I hadn't returned something, when I knew I had. Idiots.

    4.) That all being said, as a self-proclaimed "mall rat" back in the '80's, I'm amazed at how much time I spent (wasted?!) going to the mall. I can't imagine spending any time there now - not that there are a lot of malls in my are anymore. I would consider it boring these days.

    Though, there is definitely some bittersweet nostalgia related to going to these malls during the '80's era. Here are a couple of articles about some Malls that used to be huge in the '80's & '90's in the Baltimore MD/Washington D.C. area - where I grew up. These are now being closed down:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/1...n_6377576.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/bu...alls.html?_r=0

    Going along with this, many of those retail chain stores from the '80's are now defunct. Growing up on the East Coast, I very clearly remember Zayre's & Memco. Zayre's was kind of a dumpy department store, but I do remember them having some cool stuff. Memco was the first department store I remember going to that had a grocery store - as well as also selling clothes, toys, etc. Later, the Memco near me became "Bradlees", and it wasn't as good - or sold nearly as much variety.

    Here's an interesting link:

    http://www.metv.com/lists/7-discount...forgot-existed
    Last edited by man-e-faces; May 18, 2017 at 09:31pm.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior DC_WARLORD's Avatar
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    A co-worker and I were discussing this very issue a few years ago. We jokingly said that eventually, there will be NO retail stores. There will be one big giant warehouse in Kansas that holds everything. Everybody will buy everything online, and 90% of employment in America will be delivery drivers.

    It really is interesting. I too, have a ba-zillion memories of buying things at brick and mortar stores. During the 90s, I bought sooo many MARVEL figures at KB TOYS, but they are long gone. I still buy CDs, but I haven't set foot in a music store in years. My wife buys a lot of her clothes, jewelry, and even shoes from China. There are so many streaming services that renting movies is practically a thing of the past. It's a different world.

    Anybody see the Bruce Willis movie SURROGATES? That's probably not that far off.
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    Smile! Prince Adam's Dad's Avatar
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    I can't say that I am particularly surprised. Many of the places that are facing closure now are those that were hesitant to get on the online bandwagon at its inception.

    I think there will always be brick-and-mortar stores, but their footprint will probably continue to decrease over the next several years. By the time that the current generation (the one that is the most familiar and, in turn, welcoming of online commerce) completely replaces the one before it, in-person shopping will bottom out. I sincerely doubt it will become extinct, given the proclivity of people to want to hold something in their hand (or try it on) before buying it.

    Specialty stores will continue to be those most at-risk. I honestly fear for Toys R Us' future. I love that place. LOVE it. My wife worked there (initially and during the Christmas season) for four years. We still know several people who work there. But beyond that, there is just something special about being able to walk into a store and wander around, looking at toys. It honestly does wonders for my soul. Less so for my wallet.


    Oh, and I remember Bradlees. I still remember the layout of my local Bradlees. It was where I got the vast majority of my toys when I was young. I could almost always talk my mom or Nana into a GI Joe for $2.99. And I remember how excited I was to buy my Super Nintendo (with my own money!) from there.
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    No more OT Dice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Adam's Dad View Post
    Specialty stores will continue to be those most at-risk. I honestly fear for Toys R Us' future. I love that place. LOVE it. My wife worked there (initially and during the Christmas season) for four years. We still know several people who work there. But beyond that, there is just something special about being able to walk into a store and wander around, looking at toys. It honestly does wonders for my soul. Less so for my wallet.
    I worry about this too. As a kid, many times my brother's and I would be taken out to eat wherever we wanted (we were a big fan of the all-you-can eat popcorn shrimp at the Sizzler ) and afterwards we'd be taken to Toy's R Us to pick out our own birthday gifts. To this day I still get that magical feeling I got as a child when walking in there.

    As for all the other brick and mortar stores, I personally still like to physically see and handle a product before buying it when possible. You can order clothes online all day but they may not fit the way you want. But I confess, there are many times I'll go to a store to check an item out, only to go home and order it for a lower price online.

  6. #6
    Smile! Prince Adam's Dad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dice View Post
    But I confess, there are many times I'll go to a store to check an item out, only to go home and order it for a lower price online.

    THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
















    ....yeah, I do the same thing.
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  7. #7
    Heroic Warrior He-Kal's Avatar
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    I really am amazed that Bookstores like Barnes and Noble are still making it. It's so much better ordering books cheaper from Amazon esp if they are used. Like stated before, I just go.into a physical store to see whats out, then get online and order it or add to my wishlist.

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    Heroic Warrior diosoth's Avatar
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    Radio Shack charged more than their competition by up to 3X, and phased out electronic components from many stores to focus on cell phones. That's why they went under.

    When I go to Walmart's toy section and see they barely stock anything, I know why toys are a "loss leader" for them. When I have to go to Kroger because they didn't restock certain other food items, I question how they're making money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by He-Kal View Post
    I really am amazed that Bookstores like Barnes and Noble are still making it. It's so much better ordering books cheaper from Amazon esp if they are used. Like stated before, I just go.into a physical store to see whats out, then get online and order it or add to my wishlist.
    I can say that we have a Books-A-Million in my area that does good business. Free wifi and nice cafe attached. My boys and I love to go there and look around. Almost always end up buying something. They also has a nice section of comics, manga ,and anime plus a lot of neat toys and collectibles.

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    Heroic Warrior Amentep's Avatar
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    Its particularly silly that Sears - which started as a mail order catalog - has been unable to adapt. But their leadership has done a lot of things that hasn't made sense - including closing profitable stand-alone stores in the 1990s so they could add more mall store - when mall stores in the area weren't doing anywhere near as good as the profitable stand alone store they closed was! Now with malls themselves going burst, that strategy seems even more short sighted.

    And the truth is, a lot of the stuff I want to buy aren't even carried in stores anymore, or carried in small quantities that its extremely difficult to actually get which sort of forces one online no matter how you might want to support a local store.

  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior H.A.L.9000's Avatar
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    such a bummer,... im not much for online shopping.. yea convenient.. but for clothes..NOT FOR ME.. i have to try them on or haven them hand when i buy..

    I enjoy the shopping experience... tho i may be in the minority..sad times for this mallrat...
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  12. #12
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    it just part of the circle of life: big box ate the small mom & pop's and now the internet is eating up the big box...and starting to open their own B&Ms. oh the irony....

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    I hadn't the term "retail apocalypse" before". A bit dramatic but fairly accurate.

    will said stores die off? if they do die off will it be a slow death? a fast one? Will they have to parse down? will they have to diversely expand their inventory?

    If they do die off what's next for that spot? a b&m you've heard before take it's spot? will that spot sit vacant for a long time?

    That's what I'm wandering.

  14. #14
    Broncos lovin' admin! dorrmann's Avatar
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    For the most part, I prefer to go to the store than to order something online.

    I love going in and wandering around, looking at all the different items. I still do it at Best Buy and others. I'll gladly pay more to get something in hand immediately and experience the real-life shopping atmosphere.

    My wife just did her first online order for groceries. Our local King Soopers (Kroger) has great curbside pickup. She loved it.

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    Good points, everyone. I still shop @ brick & mortar stores for food & clothes/shoes, but that's about it. I feel like I need to see the food before buying this (check the expiration date, make sure everything is in good shape, etc.). And, I like to make sure clothes & shoes fit before I buy them.

    Here are some specific memories of some retail stores:

    Toys R' Us - still around, but a shade of it's former self. As a kid in the '80's, I used to really enjoy going to that store - it was pure heaven. Here's an article w/pics. comparing the store in the 200X's to the store in the '80's. Check out the great '80's pics. of the MOTU toys displayed at the store - amazing!:

    http://www.retrojunk.com/article/sho...tage-toys-r-us

    Barnes & Noble: Never been a big fan of this store, but it's one of the only chain bookstores still around. They rarely have sales & though they have a cool toy section, everything is overpriced. That being said, they do have Starbuck's.

    Border's Books & Music (defunct): Though their CD's were overpriced, I really dug their book & graphic novel section.

    KB Toys (defunct): Really enjoyed going to the store in the '80's/'90's/early 200X's. Great places to find somewhat obscure toys for great prices. I remember KB was the only place I ever found the 200X Man-e-faces.
    Last edited by man-e-faces; May 21, 2017 at 12:00am.

  16. #16
    Heroic Scientist sircory-1's Avatar
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    I read a lot of books. Barnes and Noble is a great store. The key to saving big there is getting their member card. It's $25/year but you get a lot of savings with that - even BELOW amazon.com prices on a lot of things. It's worth it.

    I buy a lot of signed books (by the author) from Barnes and Noble. To this day, I've never seen Amazon offer something like that.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amentep View Post
    Its particularly silly that Sears - which started as a mail order catalog - has been unable to adapt. But their leadership has done a lot of things that hasn't made sense - including closing profitable stand-alone stores in the 1990s so they could add more mall store - when mall stores in the area weren't doing anywhere near as good as the profitable stand alone store they closed was! Now with malls themselves going burst, that strategy seems even more short sighted.

    And the truth is, a lot of the stuff I want to buy aren't even carried in stores anymore, or carried in small quantities that its extremely difficult to actually get which sort of forces one online no matter how you might want to support a local store.
    Agree with all of this. Unfortunately, Sears is probably going to go under in the next several years. This reminds me of Blockbuster Video; they couldn't keep up with the new home video technology (i.e., streaming) & because of this they just went by the wayside. If they had gotten on the streaming bandwagon early on (like Netflix did) I think they could have competed...maybe. As it stands, there's no reason to go through the hassle/inconvenience of going to a video store to rent DVD's (and worry about late fees, etc.) if you can just stream them from the privacy & convenience of your own home.

    Re: your second point above, if you want new classic rock CD's from the '60's - '70's, you will be hard pressed to find any in regular retail stores like Target, Wal-mart, etc. - unless you come across a small quantity somewhere...but they almost certainly won't have the entire catalog of a specific group/artist, i.e. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. You'lll probably have to go online for these.

    Going along with this, Best Buy is another retail store that is also a sad shade of it's former self. This was my go-to store back in the '90's & early 200X's if I wanted any kind of music CD's, DVD's, electronic equipment, etc. Now, I don't even like going to the store because they have an extremely poor selection of CD's & DVD's - i.e. shelf space is about a third of what it was back in the day. And, they have a sub-par selection re: their electronics. What they do have is extremely overpriced....despite the fact that they used to have the best prices around for electronic equipment!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amentep View Post
    Its particularly silly that Sears - which started as a mail order catalog - has been unable to adapt. But their leadership has done a lot of things that hasn't made sense - including closing profitable stand-alone stores in the 1990s so they could add more mall store - when mall stores in the area weren't doing anywhere near as good as the profitable stand alone store they closed was! Now with malls themselves going burst, that strategy seems even more short sighted.

    And the truth is, a lot of the stuff I want to buy aren't even carried in stores anymore, or carried in small quantities that its extremely difficult to actually get which sort of forces one online no matter how you might want to support a local store.
    I don't know if this is still the case but for many years Sears salespeople operated off commission. This would sometimes lead to poor customer service and pushy salespeople. I saw many instances of people who looked like they had money getting quicker and better service than people who didn't. Also, many people didn't know, but the prices were higher because they were negotiable. Salespeople could drop prices on items as though you were getting a deal even when you were still paying more than you should.

    I've never liked having to deal with someone who's pay is determined by how much more they can charge me for an item than what it costs. I recently bought a car that sat on the lot for over 2 months with no one interested. The day I called it had been sent to the auction because it wasn't selling. It didn't sell at auction either and I made an offer on the phone which the sales guy gladly accepted. The day I came in to buy it, another customer had come in to look and the sales guy acted like a complete $?^"%? to me. Turns out she would have paid sticker price and he would have made a bigger commission. I barely saw him after I'd got there and three different times the wrong price was "accidentally" put on my paperwork that had to be corrected.

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    Heroic Warrior InThe80s's Avatar
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    Sears only uses commissions on big ticket items like appliances and furniture. Fully assembled furniture is almost always commission based no matter what store you go to.


    Sears is only a tiny symptom of a much larger trend. The retail apocalypse has been going on for over a decade being called other things at different times.

    This documentary is almost ten years old. All the malls featured have been completely demolished as of 2017.



    At the heart of the problem is the death of the middle class. People just don't have the disposable income anymore to waste time and money going to malls. This is the end of an era and the end of a way of life. Look up the dead mall series on YouTube. There are thousands of videos.

    Last edited by InThe80s; May 19, 2017 at 08:49am.

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    No more OT Dice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InThe80s View Post
    Sears only uses commissions on big ticket items like appliances and furniture. Fully assembled furniture is almost always commission based no matter what store you go to.
    Also electronics, jewelry, leisure items (like pool tables), exercise and lawn equipment.

  21. #21
    Heroic Warrior THE SEEKERS's Avatar
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    I dint know about where you guys love, but the malls over here are always packed. Especially the one with Sears as an anchor store.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by InThe80s View Post
    Sears only uses commissions on big ticket items like appliances and furniture. Fully assembled furniture is almost always commission based no matter what store you go to.


    Sears is only a tiny symptom of a much larger trend. The retail apocalypse has been going on for over a decade being called other things at different times.

    This documentary is almost ten years old. All the malls featured have been completely demolished as of 2017.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o00TE3AbtZs

    At the heart of the problem is the death of the middle class. People just don't have the disposable income anymore to waste time and money going to malls. This is the end of an era and the end of a way of life. Look up the dead mall series on YouTube. There are thousands of videos.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FggkGfKzrs

    I love the "dead mall" series. The kid in me wishes I had more time on my hands to go explore one.

  22. #22
    Broncos lovin' admin! dorrmann's Avatar
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    One of my favorite places to waste time was Media Play. Out of all of the chains that closed in the past years, I miss Media Play the most.

  23. #23
    Heroic Warrior MJOLNIR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dice View Post
    I worry about this too. As a kid, many times my brother's and I would be taken out to eat wherever we wanted (we were a big fan of the all-you-can eat popcorn shrimp at the Sizzler ) and afterwards we'd be taken to Toy's R Us to pick out our own birthday gifts. To this day I still get that magical feeling I got as a child when walking in there.

    As for all the other brick and mortar stores, I personally still like to physically see and handle a product before buying it when possible. You can order clothes online all day but they may not fit the way you want. But I confess, there are many times I'll go to a store to check an item out, only to go home and order it for a lower price online.
    I sympathize. Even as an adult I'd saunter on down to Flatbush TRU on a day off or if I had an easy day at work I'd hit the flagship store at Times Square or FAO. Now those Manhattan locations are gone and I have no outlet for my Toy Therapy. Yeah I love Midtown comics and FP etc but I didn't shop there as a kid. They don't do what Toys R Us or Kaybee or any of the long closed mom and pop shops did.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by InThe80s View Post
    At the heart of the problem is the death of the middle class. People just don't have the disposable income anymore to waste time and money going to malls. This is the end of an era and the end of a way of life. Look up the dead mall series on YouTube. There are thousands of videos.
    True. And, again, the growth & popularity of online shopping has a lot to do with this.

    Here's another interesting news video about the death of the shopping mall. This goes over a lot of what we've been talking about here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7y1FoFqtiw
    Last edited by man-e-faces; May 20, 2017 at 05:32pm.

  25. #25
    Heroic Warrior diosoth's Avatar
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    It's mainly to blame on retail prices + retail availability(or lack thereof). Why spend $10 or more on gas to drive around hoping a local store will even have it, when I can order it online for retail and free shipping and guarantee I get it? Online shopping offers a wide selection, a retail store might dedicate a 3' x 3' shelf spot to that brand. Some stores charge more than it can be bought online. Online shopping also allows people to shop for older used items, which you're not too likely to find outside of thrift stores or yard sales in very limited quantities.

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