More retail troubles
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
3 November 2017
Retail Troubles. Rebrand.
Sad. More retail troubles.
Lord & Taylor is selling its flagship store on Fifth Avenue. The old landmark is lost, according to a recent article in the New York Times. My sadness is not over the loss of this bastion of retail space but the end of an era. Retail troubles are accelerating.
Retail is in trouble
This is not new news. It’s not fake news either. The entire retail industry is slipping away. This is endemic.
What I enjoy most of the great piece in the New York Times is the history. The retail giants were the Steve Jobs of their generation.
They saw beyond retail. The vision created a destination. Not simply a shopping experience. The department store became the threads of human fabric. An event and a respite.
“Department stores were founded on innovation and change. Now they are victims of their own staleness. Time to reinvent. AGAIN.”
These were revolutionary currents. Innovators. In touch with the aspirations of the time, these giants responded. The department store is a creation that changes everything.
Shopping is never the same. Think about it. Indoor skating rinks. Bowling alleys. Restaurants. The works. Only Harrods in London retains this footprint. Heady times.
As a young kid, I remember going to the Philadelphia’s Harrods want-to-be with my family— John Wanamaker. It was not spending a day shopping. It was an event.
The center of this behemoth rose like a skyscraper to a little kid. And every hour the great center lobby dimmed its lights for the Wanamaker Christmas Show. I still hear John Facenda narrating the predictable and yet exciting light show.
Spend a day and a fortune
Wasted space. That’s todays mantra. But I can still remember standing in line with my sister to get a seat on the ceiling monorail that seemed longer than it was. It took all the kids for a ride high above the toy department. A floor of its very own.
Lunch was at the Crystal Room. A haughty and cavernous restaurant located on the top floor of The Wanamaker building. Christmas season had arrived.
I’ll bet we all have stories
The department store ignites magic. But they stopped innovating. Retail troubles hit them like a runaway monorail. Today, they are shriveling on the vine like old pumpkins that no one picks. Shriveled relics of a mightier past.
They met the needs of the day with a brand mythology that transcends shopping and buying. They elevated life to experience.
Time for burial or rebirth?
It’s up to them. Retail troubles are self-inflicted wounds. I have written extensively about the problems in retailing today. I am part of Retail Wire’s Braintrust. You can find a solution to brick and mortar retail here, if you care to read it.
But retail troubles start with blindness.
No longer innovators. They ask for solutions that require no changes.
The solution to retail troubles
Dance with the date you came with. Innovations. Risk takers. Myth builders. Magic makers.
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