Peregrine Falcon

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Cyberfökking of Main Street

              wegotchips©2008 Robert Sommers

As a brick and mortar retailer, literally on Main Avenue, married to another brick and mortar retailer, I look to the future with a certain amount of trepidation, as do most sane americans.
Prognosticators are issuing dire warnings about the potential gloomy skies ahead for retailers in our country. I read earlier this week that as many as 25% of our country's small businesses could be heading for the skids. As a natural pessimist, I know that if the whole thing is actually going to shit, as Jim Morrison used to say, no one gets out of here alive.  As secure and protected as the apex dwellers think they are, the vacuum is too strong and that loud sucking sound will be the entire economy swirling down the cosmic abyss.
I have had a good holiday season, quarter and year, thanks to extremely loyal and sweet clients, a fact for which I am exceedingly grateful.  The question for all of us is what happens three or six months down the line?  I am squaring my jaw with the attitude that life must move on and continue, knowing full well that my blind faith might be misplaced, but what are you going to do?
One of the causes for our retail meltdown just might be the internet.  A few years ago, Main St. got hit hard by the big box vendors of the world, Target and Walmart. Notorious for squeezing vendors down to the bone, these megamonsters can price cut until they are making pennies, and there is no way for ma and pa at the corner to compete so they end up failing.  The store next to my own has been vacant for about a year, the good longtime neighbors across the street leaving in a couple more days. I own my business property - what will happen to the value of my investment?
Now turnabout being fair play, we are seeing the big boxers start to crash, Mervyn's, Linens, Circuit City... Because of the new terrors, Amazon, Ebay stores and the like. Who will go to the corner, or the mall for that matter, for a camera when you can get one online from B&H at cost, with no tax and usually free shipping? Are shops becoming a twenty first century anachronism?
I remember a great Star Trek episode where people are reduced to brains in jars on the table in the future and wonder if it is really so off the mark.  My god, I spend enough time on the computer. When's the last time you saw kids throwing a ball around?  And sitting at a terminal is a way to protect yourself from people's germs and contagions, excluding the occasional computer virus.  Probably don't need all of these vestigial fingers either, typing being readily accomplished with one or three.
I am married to a bargain shopper, descended from a family of bargain shoppers.  They can get on the phone and discuss the market rate of celery for hours on end and drive an interminable distance for a small savings.  I tend to just go buy the stuff where it is convenient, thinking that my time is more valuable than the endless hunt. But viva la difference.
I do think that unless you want your retail area of your town to resemble Williamsburg or some Amish community where we dress up and perform for you like happy retailers, you better come down and support us, because maybe soon there will be nothing left. 


Anonymous said...

BRICK AND MORTAR? You are delusional. Take a walk around an ethnic neighborhood like I did yesterday in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. One half is Chinese and the other half is Mexican. It used to be one half Polish and one half Italian. We stopped off in a Polish Deli and bought a loaf of bread from a beautiful blue eyed woman. She wore two sweaters and gloves with the tips cut off. This was indoors in a shop where they cannot afford to keep the heat up very high. Outside were street vendors selling everything from fruit and vegetables to shoe repairs. We ran into a couple. A young pretty woman and an older man. He was smoking away on a cigarette. He was stooped and thin whereas the woman was still full of the beauty of youth. When we walked away-my friend Art speaks Mandarin and I had no idea what they were talking about-other than shaking their hands and smiling a lot. Then Art explained to me that on his corner down on Crosby Street in SOHO, this couple sells fruit and veggies six days a week, outdoors, nickel and diming their way into the American culture. When a white middle class guy like you, (or me for that matter) pretends he is in the trenches, it makes me cringe-you are one lucky motherfucker as are many of us. You can keep a roof over your head, you have a fortune in assets between your inventory and real estate holdings and you are making like you are some marginal in debt over your head blue collar person, one step from disaster. Got medical insurance? Fucking right you do. When you were sick, you got first class care in a top notch hospital. Stop by your local community health center tomorrow morning.
I hope in the New Year, we will all prosper, and I mean ALL of us. But it would be wise of all of us, and I too am guilty of what you are expressing....we should keep our attention on those LESS FORTUNATE THAN US...THE MARGINAL MIGRANTS/IMMIGRANTS/EMMIGRANTS...THEIR UNINSURED CHILDREN RECEIVING A CRAPPY EDUCATION AND LIVING IN SUBSTANDARD CONDITIONS.
Fuck Main Street. I think we have enough STUFF.
I love ya man....but sometimes you walk off the center line and into the cosmic ditch. In the words of Mister Natural......hmmmm, what the hell did he say? O yeah, "DITTY WAH DITTY.'

Blue Heron said...

Thanks for the 2 x 4, Stan, I wasn't crying in my own beer, but speaking in macro terms about the fate of small town america. The Williamsburg I speak of is a little disney town in Virginia, not Brooklyn. Yes, I have been very fortunate. But you let the middle class you speak so fondly of go down the shitter and those people on the bottom end ytake the real endo into disaster. So yes, Main Street is important. Delancy St. is one reality, there are plenty of folks out here and elsewhere who have paid into the system with their own blood and sweat, not to mention taxes, 401k's and social security, who are in equally serious pain. You kill the torso, all the little digits are going to die as well. The plight of the immigrant is difficult - unless you are a true native american, every group does the same dance, but in my town, they are taking taxis to the emergency room and can't be refused, while citizens are literally turned away for lack of insurance. So don't give me that bullshit. But I love you.


Anonymous said...

enough with the white guilt...

Blue Heron said...

I guess when I get destitute I'll have more street cred.

Anonymous said...

Boils down to the fact corporate Amerika has prostituted the internet. Every corporate storefront has a website. Most small merchants have one too.

Nothing bugs me more than fake downtowns. Many cityies have no money or control of [say] McDonalds brainstorming their poison food into Main St. with a creative and deceptive touch of plastic morphing, allowing them to move into a downtown brick and mortar mecca as a quaint burger shop. The most vulnerable towns to this type of deception are the one's where the city councils and longtime merchants are forced to allow companies like Starbucks to blend in [no pun intended] with existing storefronts because of the vacant downtown properties left by merchants who can no longer compete with corporate companies.

The next step for corporate America is corrupting the city council with money for redevelopment or adding their own man on the city council to insure that they have no corporate competition themselves! Some greedy corporate investors literally buy up Main St and force out lifetime merchants.

Likewise some small towns fight corporations so much as to deprive people the choice of larger satellite merchants ala Costco or WalMart, which are, in these troubled times necessary evils. The Internet is here to stay. Mini malls, strip malls and factory outlets are a fact of life-like it or not.

We should, at least, be able to save Main Street!!! Just because New York has relagated it's Soho District to its slums is not a good reason to knock merchants who want to keep Main St. free of Wendys and as a traditional area for small merchants who offer products not made in China. I'm sorry, there is not much of an argument as for blaming Brick and Mortar merchants as to holding back the education of immigrants.

Anonymous said...

it ain't white guilt....going for plane rides for fun...nothin wrong with it...all I am saying is, stop pretending to be what you are not...and who said that crappo statement about poor people taking taxis? What a bunch of dispassionate hatemongering. Don't like it? BUILD MORE HOSPITALS=are you more entitled to public health because you have more money in the system? Your immigrant great grandparents are rollin in their graves. Shame on yehs.....it is funny in a way. Short memories...elitism, untowards reactions to the less fortunate...yeah those sons of bitches living in ratholes, working in the kitchens of the local hash joints, cleaning up my yard...fuck em.
I say, despite those comments, better to discuss than not...and just don't raise your shotgun at me if I appear at your backdoor asking for some hanyman work in exchange for a small serving of pate or a decent glass of wine.

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't find me to be a total grump. I'm not. I have been surrounded with entitled people my whole life and have strived to make a different path for myself, but most of the time, I feel like nothing changes....it is like Bonfire of the Vanities circa 2009.
My neighbor lives in an apartment building full of movie stars. A typical apartment goes for over ten million,. She owns FAO Schwarz (yeah, you read that right),....her husband does investing. They have three children in Ivy League schools....they own seven cars (each of the kids obviously must drive a safe new car), they have two or three properties for weekend skiing etc....and the woman walks up to me wringing her hands a few weeks ago, shaking her head like 'Whoa is Me.'
I said, Kathy, what's the problem?
Her answer was classic....she looks at me forlorned and says, "You know, my husband works on Wall Street."
What could I say? All I thought was, 'we all have so much, we cannot see the forest for the trees.'

Yeah-you are a gambler. You buy artwork and hope the market will go up, and same for real estate and probably for a lot of other stuff. But so what? You have won a few good races, but you should know that the HOUSE ALWAYS WINS.
That is right. And look back in history and you will see what I see. The House always wins. We are worker ants and nothing more. We find diversions, fast cars, booze and drugs, music and good food and pretend we have gotten out of the rat race....the house has already won.
Dick Cheney and his pals are the house. So are half the people in DC, ten percent of the people on Wall Street, everyone in the armament business and oil businesses....
we divert our eyes and look at our comforts and think we have escaped the trap....so maybe that is why we have religious idiots selling us cosmic pots and pans...cause we are hopeless and violent...
OK-not really....but you pushed my button....like you were speaking at the local Rotary club....'damned Walmart is pushing us out.'

Blue Heron said...

I need some time for an adequate response which is coming soon. Have definite opinions on the subject and appreciate your input. Remember, I was the poor kid on the lower east side who walked to and from school on 85th and lex from 24th street on occasion - I panhandled, hustled tokens from hookers in front of the Waldorf for subway. Hated the entitled - now understand that we are all on the edge of the same precipice - will respond later.

Love you.

Anonymous said...

Hey NYStan, illegal aliens with no insurance get better treatment in hospitals than poor folks with crappy insurance. By the way, many illegals have good paying jobs (yeah they work hard-nobody is arguing that)
I was once hospitalized with a life threatening condition. When I got out of emergency the doc's told me there were no rooms in the hospital due to Latino gang members that had rooms after many of them were hurt in a gang fight. I had to stay in a cold observation room with a 100 degree temp with 5 other people just like me who were denied rooms due to gang bangers.
Get Real! How can one defend illegals who drive with no lisence or insurance? Maybe our society needs to review conditions that illegals have to endure, but they are here in the US because they choose to be. Would it be so unkind as to ask them to at least try to abide by our laws?