The Sad State of Traditional Retail

It’s not much of a day for riding on this cold and raining Sunday and my thoughts have turned to some recent online purchases and the sorry state of brick and mortar retail.

I just saw an article online claiming that Sears may be close to bankruptcy, I’m not surprised.  Sears is an old fashioned retailer that focuses on quality over discounts and there just doesn’t seem to be a place for that anymore.  I can’t help but be reminded about the Sears Wishbook which faithfully showed up in our mailbox before Christmas every year as a kid.  I don’t think we ever really ordered anything from it but I would spend hours staring at it’s hundreds of pages pondering the most important question of the year, what do I want for Christmas.

Sears brick and mortar stores are an extension of that catalog mentality, “Everything you need to live the good life for sale under one roof.”  For reasons I can’t completely understand the days of putting everything under one roof seem to be going away.  As a person who grew up in 80s and 90s mall culture where going to the mall was nearly the most exciting thing you could do it’s sorry to see the sad state of malls these days.  Especially when a mall is sitting mostly empty and is surrounded by brand new mini strip malls and buildings completely full.

Bad Kitty

Bad Kitty

Of course I’m just as guilty as anyone.  My friend Joe recently loaned me a book called, “Mysteries of the Middle Ages,”  by Thomas Cahill.  I really enjoyed the author’s style and found that he is most well know for a book called, “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” that sounded very interesting.  I went to buy the book at Barnes and Noble and found the diminutive paperback was 16 dollars.  I went home and ordered a used copy for 4 dollars and free shipping.  As a result I was far less aggravated when the cat decided to tear into the cover.

I also recently purchased three pairs of cycling bib shorts.  The shorts retailed from 200 dollars to 150 each.  They were on sale of course and  I paid about 40 dollars a pair for them from  Oh and to sweeten the deal I got free shipping on my order.  How many of you remember getting together with your cycling buds back in the day to make a combined Bike Nashbar order.  Back then it would cost 15-20 dollars in shipping to make an order whether the order was a few items or 20 items so it made sense to combine shipping.  I  can’t understand how these online retailers can sell stuff so cheap and ship to to my door in three days for free.

My first pair of bike shorts were purchased at a bike shop around 1995, they were shorts not bibs, had a horrible foam pad, and I think I paid about 40 dollars for them.  I haven’t bought a pair of shorts from a bike shop since then.  Anyway, its all good to say shop local, support your LBS, and all that, but it’s hard to pay twice as much for something that would show up at your door.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Barn Door Cycling, Bikes and components, lifestyle, Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Sad State of Traditional Retail

  1. Dennis O says:

    I have no answer to buying from local shops. I know I should, but I am tired of untrained sales people, driving through town, paying almost 10% sales tax, and paying 300% or so markup. I buy as much as I can online.

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