We recently had the experience of “watching” a major department store close one of its locations due to a slump in sales. We made frequent visits from the date of the announcement till the day the last customer was allowed in and out of the front doors. Just to observe the dismantling of a store.
We watched as merchandise was discounted and taken home by excited bargain hunters. We saw the floor area shrink as the liquidator moved merchandise closer and closer to the middle of the space, leaving behind an unimaginable number of tables, racks, shelving, signs, hangers, and other display paraphernalia.
We learned that some of the stuff it takes to outfit a store was to be sent to other stores. Some of it was offered to the people in the local community for purchase at very reasonable prices. Some of it went to charities who expressed a need for it. Some of it was sent to a metal recycler.
Too much of it ended up in a landfill.
We wondered about the reverse of that operation: the opening of a store. The truckloads of boxes that arrive carrying all of those tables, racks, shelving, signs, hangers, and other display paraphernalia. Boxes filled with foam blocks, bubble wrap, and wooden crates, as well as the products that will be for sale. We presume the cardboard is recycled, but we also presume that a lot of that stuff ends up in a landfill. We know their direct mail advertising pieces end up there for the most part.
A business like that makes a negative impact on the environment whether it’s opening or closing. A business like that has a high overhead in terms of energy consumption. A business like that requires you to get dressed and drive to it.
An online store makes no such impact. A virtual store, meaning you may keep no inventory on hand so there is no need for display tables and racks or warehouses full of storage shelves. Suppliers may stock their own merchandise and ship it directly to you as soon as you place your order.
Doing business this way saves money and these savings can then be passed along to customers. This also saves vendors time and money they’d otherwise have to spend marketing and selling. Often these types of suppliers are offering unique or very limited edition merchandise. They can’t provide the quantities of mass produced products the big department stores require. Artisans and craftspeople much rather be creating new products than negotiating contracts and managing large teams of workers. They take pride in quality over quantity.
Now, that’s a win-win for all of us.
We believe that this is the front of a future trend, a trend that can go a long way toward saving the resources of the world for more valuable things than store displays. Online shoppers are able to look at pictures in a virtual catalog and make purchasing decisions and they save gas and other valuable resources by shopping online versus traveling all around town to and shopping to “brick and mortar” stores.