Friday, March 4, 2016

Treading Water in a Shrinking Pond

And yet another one bites the dust and I begin wondering. The politicians and financial pundits all tell us that the US is in great shape, that our economy is strong and getting better every day, that unemployment is down and earning dollars are up, and that (basically) everything is coming up roses. But then I look around me at small businesses and I wonder what in hell they have all been smoking!

The Bead Monkey in Minneapolis is the latest store to shut their
doors. I don't have a time-frame (yet), but just got notified
that they're closing in my emails this morning. 

Commerce has changed, and not for the better. Small businesses are closing left and right and while internet commerce is strengthening, the small stores along the main streets and in the smaller shopping areas are closing. It's March and so far this year in my state and industry alone, two more stores have closed. The pool is shrinking under the hot sun of e-commerce and it's making cookie-cutter consumers out of all of us.

The pool of small stores is shrinking almost as dramatically as
the water levels of Lake Mead, Nevada. 

Instead of being able to actually touch an item. Instead of talking with knowledgeable salespeople about what a product will (or won't) do for you, you're looking at a screen and ordering blind. The only other alternative available is the "big box" store - in my industry, the Michaels and the Jo-Ann Arts and Crafts. They carry less than 1/10th of my product and they know absolutely nothing about it because their sales people have too many products and no in-depth knowledge about any of them.

Small town America is shrinking and their stable businesses are
closing and leaving. Commerce is the backbone of this nation and
commerce isn't working for local economy any more. 

Sure, people can go on-line and order beads - they're out there, they're quite accessible. Hell, I have a website too (not up-to-date, but still used and still quite functional). My customers keep telling me that they want to see the beads in person. That colors are so important and that they need to find out from us which beads will actually work in their projects. We're happy to help. It's why we're there.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. Small businesses can survive
as long as their customers shop them instead of the internet. Money
spent in your community benefits your community. Support your
local small businesses whenever possible and help yourself. 

That said, if I was given the chance to sell the store and retire tomorrow, I'd do in it a flash. I too would join the small business exodus because when you're in a group, you don't feel as alone. I keep that beacon light of "retirement" shining ahead of me and I keep working because I'm not there yet. But it's getting harder and harder to tread water in a shrinking pond.

Have a good Friday, all. Sorry to end the week on a downer, but I'll try to make up for it with tomorrow's post. *hugs* to all.

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