|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Monday, June 23, 2003
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Have you ever been to a dollar store?
You know, one of those places in which you'll find no single product marked for sale at a price more than $1?
I've always just kind of walked through those joints with a smirk, looking at the collection of off-brand tortilla chips, party favors from the Reagan era, and ashtrays in every conceivable shape and size, and thought to myself "who's buying this junk?" It's like the ultimate white trash garage sale. I keep expecting to see velvet reproductions of a very holy looking Jesus and a very lambchopped Elvis lurking in the back. It's all garbage.
In between where I live and where I work, which is no more than an eight mile stretch, there are SEVEN dollar stores. Seven. Two of them are so close to one another that it is only one store front (a "Dots" women's clothier I believe) which seperates them.
How does an area support seven dollar stores? Better yet, figure out for me how much merchandise a dollar store has to move in a day to accomodate just its basic costs for labor, rent, utilities, and inventory. How in the hell do you make money with these places?
Here's something that's been bugging me...
I live in a smallish community, about 40 miles from Michigan's second largest city. In my area, there's a few towns that stretch North to South along Michigan's West Coast. None very big. Nice atmosphere, a place where a lot of people from Chicago own summer homes and come for long weekends every summer.
It started a couple of years ago when Applebee's moved in. I see Applebee's as the death knell of family owned and operated restaurants. American consumers are such fucking suckers sometimes. One sizzling fajita platter showcased in a commercial break during "Seinfeld," and all of a sudden it's unimportant to support local businesspeople. Since Applebee's came in, we've seen a Big Boy open up (not that there was any lack of restaurants at which to eat breakfast in my town), a couple of Subways, two Starbucks (luckily hidden inside supermarkets - our downtown is safe for now), and other minor chains like Hungry Howie's pizza (again, no lack of places to get a pizza) have opened their doors. Outside of my town, just up the road, we've been graced with a new shopping mall, and across the street a Barnes & Noble, Menards' (home improvement chain), Old Navy, another couple of Subways, a Best Buy, and chain restaurants as far as the eye could see. We've seen the closing of family businesses like Cook's Hardware, which had been open for over 90 years, and will probably see local lumber stores, small bookstores, and other locally owned businesses fall by the wayside over the next few years.
It gets worse. We're supposedly getting BOTH a Home Depot as well as a (sonofabitch) Wal-Mart in the next two years. Funny thing, I know where I can go right now to get clothes, DVDs, paper plates, PVC pipe, and anything else I could need. I'm not travelling far as it is. Why do we need this?
Is this really what we want? Am I such a fickle yet gullible consumer that I can't for one minute bear the thought that I might be stuck in a different part of the country without being able to get an Oriental Chicken Salad just the way they make it back home? Am I such a simpleton that I can't be expected to wander the aisles of a hardware store looking for a monkey wrench when I can go to Menards' and know I'll find it midway back on the left hand side? These big retailers seem to think this is what's best for America. And our people eat it up. When another local Wal-Mart opened recently, you couldn't get in and out of there with a pack of gum in less than twenty minutes due to the lines of people eager to shop. Unbelievable.
And really, this is all over saving probably 3-10% on our purchases. Is the facelift we're giving middle America really worth 3-10% of your purchase price?
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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