Wednesday, May 25, 2022

On An Odd Non-Reopening

 My Greater Area Of Operations (GAOO) here in New Home is fairly limited:  I drive 13 miles one way to class, 5 miles the opposite way to the gym or rabbit shelter, and between that to the business that I go to (literally at this point the grocery story, the Big Box Construction store, and the used book store).  That said, I tend to go by them enough that small changes strike me.

That is why, this weekend, I was oddly struck by a series of businesses that remain unopen.

The businesses - a party store, two clothing stores (one a national chain), a discount store, a national chain pet store, and the afore mentioned regional book store - had an event which caused a closing of their section of the outdoor strip mall. Given that on any given Sunday - the day I typically go there - the parking lot was full and business was almost seemed pretty good, I assumed that they would quickly have repair work done and be remodeled.

I was, apparently, wrong.

Of the 6 stores, only three have reopened - the party story, the discount store, and the regional used book store.  The other clothing store is "open" - but only buying clothes, not selling any (which seems remarkably odd to me).  The other two - both national chains - remain closed. 

This honestly surprises me.

It is not that these two stores are the only ones of their kind - there are several others scattered across the larger New Home Area.  But they were certainly busy every time I went by and (I had assumed) some level of profit generators.

I suspect one of two things is at work here.  The first is simply that it is taking longer for these locations to open due to repairs, availability of materials for repair, insurance money, etc. - or simply that they are arguing with the landlord about who is paying. 

The other - a little more ominous - makes me wonder if it is a version of a soft closing.

It is easy enough to justify of course, given the current environment - especially due to the fact that the facilities are already damaged.  Rather than spend the money to revamp the store, simply break the lease (probably allowed under the "Acts of God" that show up in most leases), eat the losses, and move on.  In a way it is like employees that work at a company that seem to disappear in the night and nobody remembers that the left until weeks later when they need to contact them for something.

I do not know that this is an "indication" of economic stability, but I do intend to continue to watch it.  If a sign, I expect to see it multiplied many times over in the coming months.

10 comments:

  1. My guess is there is a third and more likely answer. I would guess that during the time these stores were closed, their primary front line staff wasn’t getting paid. Those types of people generally can’t go long between paychecks and found other jobs. Now the store is having hard times finding new employees. There are a few restaurants in town that are limiting seating or doing carry out only because they just can’t hire anyone for the wages they are willing to pay.

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    1. Ed, that very well may be true - and you are right, that could be a third option - or the store put them in other locations that they cannot or do not want to leave. We have the same restaurant experience here as well.

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  2. Nylon124:45 AM

    Amazon and Walmart are having "issues" with their warehouses/distribution centers along with shrinking their workforce after increasing it last year. Diesel prices remaining this high or going higher, well, EVERYTHING moves by truck. Color me apprehensive.

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    1. Nylon12- I saw the same articles and yes, I have the same concerns. The great alarm (for me) with Amazon and Wal-Mart is that they have effectively killed the smaller competition, so if they go, we will have the equivalent of retail wastelands.

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    2. Perhaps I'm being naïve, but I think it would be great to see a world again without Amazon or Walmart. It would be a painful transition most likely, but since I'm not much of a consumer, I think I would survive to see the other side. We would all have to find our inner Seneca!

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    3. Anonymous7:50 AM

      Call me what you wish, but I'm one who happily patronizes both Walmart and Amazon. I do shop locally owned stores when I can, but living in a small-town rural area, they can't adequately cover all my needs. The pros outweigh the cons for me. -Kelly

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    4. Ed, while in principal I think less of Amazon and Wal-Mart (and Target, if we are counting) would be a nice thing, it would be a painful transition. As Kelly indicates, outside of large urban areas they may well be the supplier of a lot of items. Ideally we would have to rebuild the "shopping ecosystem" (if there is such a thing; in practicality it is probably too late for that without significant issues. Sadly, most (including myself, to be fair) were not as considerate to what happens after the Big Box leaves as we should have been. Now, we may likely find out.

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    5. Kelly - Yesterday evening I made a purchasing from Amazon for a small number of items related to emergency preparedness. I priced them out at a local chain (REI for clarity), but even then the price was 15-20% more. Some of that are employee related expenses to be sure, but some of that is also overhead and taxes I should likely not be paying for. And it would be impossible for me to increase my books collection the way I have without Amazon or other on-line services. I remember the days of what the local book store had was what you could buy, or waiting for the Scholastic book fairs.

      There is indeed a balance. We have just been pretty bad to date in finding it.

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  3. A popular Youtube channel that shows the flight paths and types of planes, carriers used reported that Amazon was flying in Central Americans to work at distribution hubs on a 3 weeks on 3 weeks off schedule. They reported that they were being housed at long stay hotels while stateside, and then flown back. Cheaper more desperate labor to keep the unions out of their shops. Terrifying really if true.

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    1. Just So - Not sure of the veracity or not. But given Amazon's current stance, that would not be surprising. I suppose what would surprise me is if this was occurring and was not more public knowledge - one would think entire crews staying three weeks and then been shipped out would have been noticed by someone.

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