Column by James Dean
As a non-retail small business owner and an astute observer of Main Street USA, I have great sympathy for the economic struggles of Main Street USA storefront retailers.
Main Street USA, and its storefront retail businesses, can define their communities desirability and quality of life, by whether they look bright, attractive, welcoming, thriving, and growing, or dusty, dark, stuck in time, just holding on, or dying.
The centuries-old, only game in town, limited aging product inventory, “passive retailing” model of “open the door, turn on a few lights, and wait” has been laid to rest by the new, dynamic, low-expense, multiple-choice, latest model: the shop-in-your-underwear, anything you want delivered tomorrow, free shipping, free easy returns, online retailing model.
The choice for many Main Street USA storefront retailers — to have any hope of improving their customer traffic and financial situation — is to change the way they see and act upon the retailer/customer relationship and understand their additional responsibilities for the success of their own business, or slowly pass away from self-imposed, unwilling to change, benign neglect.
If a business district and the retail stores look bright, alive, attractive, colorful, vibrant, successful, active, cheerful, and welcoming, then people will be happy to be there. When people are happy to be there, enjoying the moment, they will patronize more businesses and spend more money.