Peter at BRM goes on a beautiful lament/takedown about all the reasons brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing like fog on a warm morning across America:
What Ails Main Street
- Every retailer is basically offering the same goods. They're almost all made in the same factories in China, with just the brand name and perhaps some cosmetic features to distinguish them from each other.
- The assistants at many retailers are abysmally ill-informed, often slovenly in their habits (i.e. needing a shower or shave or haircut, or to change their clothes), and frequently not motivated to sell. They appear to be there simply as warm bodies going through the motions. If I'm expected to pay a premium for the "benefit" of having trained salespeople to assist me, I want them to be trained, and have the expertise I expect. If they aren't and/or don't, why should I waste my time there?
- Many stores no longer keep inventory on hand of the products I want.
And he's right on every count, but we have a few more reasons to add (act surprised) that have only come up 300 times personally:
A) The Village Idiot "We don't sell many of those" Gambit.
In this game, you ask for something they should have on the shelf.
Not Yak butter, or the metric adapter for a 9/16ths left-hand socket spring for a 1968 Studebaker*, but something fairly mundane.
"We don't stock those, because we don't sell very many."
The complete irony explosion that should occur inside the head of anyone with an IQ over 80 never happens with this level of flunkie/clerk/manager/store owner.
The concept that as long as they stock none, they'll sell none, never occurs to these geniuses, with a predictability and frequency that induces bleeding out of the ears in persons with a normal IQ and recourse to rational thought.
When such item is moreover a specialty item, and one doesn't find it even at a specialty brick-and-mortar store, they clearly don't even know their own business, and one is yet again forced to direct more local dollars to the widget-droids of Amazon, or such-like.
I'm not positive, but I'm fairly certain the Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch was supposed to be parody, not a chapter in the retail business operations manual.
This is why in some stores, even if I had a CCW, I wouldn't take a gun inside a retail business these days. Not because I'd be in prison, but rather, because it would cut into my stockpile of ammunition too deeply, most weeks.
B) The "It's Not In Season Now" Excuse
Thus one can only find heaters for 5 minutes heading in to winter, (at which point they'll be out of stock again for 11 more months, no matter how long and cold winter is) and fans and air conditioners for the month before it gets hot.
And at no other time.
So if, for example, you have a small space heater for a cold spot that gets used most of the year, and it craps out in July, you'll only have to wait shivering for four or more months to replace it. Probably with an even cheaper and sketchier model than the last one, because someone found a way to make a product even less reliable, for a savings of 0.0001 cents per million/per ton, by scrimping on one of the three to seven vital moving parts or connections that make the entire item a go/no-go while still barely qualifying for a UL rating, and only marked up 25% above annual inflation from last year's model.
If it's a switch or contact that would have a million use life-cycle if made of even the flimsiest metal, it will inevitably have been replaced with plastic, synthetic rubber, or congealed cheese whiz, depending on what was in stock at the #37 Best Product Factory in Sum Flung Poo province that week.
The savings of a thinner, flimsier, shoddier item will be completely offset by the inclusion of roughly 42 pounds of extraneous plastic, polystyrene foam, NIJ Level IV-rated box sealing tape, plastic shrink wrap, bubble pack, wadded newspaper, cardboard, wire and cable ties, and 200 heavy duty metal staples, requiring the possession of the Craftsman $8900 Master Mechanic 3,000 piece tool set, the Jaws Of life, and an oxyacetylene cutting torch to successfully extract a $5 fan from the box, as if they were packing and sending vintage Renaissance hand-blown glass vases from Florence to the Andes on a one-eyed pack mule with epilepsy and three uneven wooden legs, will have been completely lost on every level of the manufacturing process from concept to delivery.
C) The "We Don't Have Those Anymore" Dodge
In this version, you go to one of the fewer stores that carry movies, television shows, or music, which should be their bread and butter, and they don't have, say, a copy of ________________.
It could be anything, but even if you asked for The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975, Michael Jackson's Thriller, Hotel California, Led Zeppelin's IV, or Billy Joel's Greatest hits Vol 1 & 2, let alone Avatar, Titanic, Avengers, Gone With the Wind, or Citizen Kane, they still wouldn't have any.
Entire bands with 10, 20, or more Billboard Top Ten hits have disappeared as if they never existed, entire movie genres have shrunk to three or four examples, but they will have 2000 assorted rap/hip-hop artists you never heard of, and the regular, deluxe, and DVD/BD/Digital download/Special Feature editions of movies that closed the week they opened, every episode of Hannah Montana, Cake Boss, WWF, and Thundercats, and literally yards - if not furlongs - of T-shirts, beach towels, toys, games, tsotchkes, posters, key rings, magnets, lunchboxes, tennis shoes, and five floor bins the size of Hesco barriers in Afghanistan full of other fanboy crapola.
But they "don't have room for" y'know, actual movies, TV shows, and music CDs that have actually been seen or heard by anyone over the age of 12, because yet again, "there's not much call for that, so we don't stock it".
Just for fun, take AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Movies, or Billboard's Top-Selling Albums of all time, or the longest-running highest-rated TV series since ever, and see how many of them they don't have.
If you're still not suicidal, ask the store help how many of them they've ever heard of, let alone actually seen or heard.
You'll probably want to stop when you get to about 90% of them.
Yet another reason not to carry a gun while shopping.
Unless you've got the Suicide Prevention Hotline on speed-dial.
We'd hate Amazon with the fire of 300 suns, because when we shop, we do it like men: we don't dilly-dally, price-check, and flit between seventeen places. We go where we go, find our prey, hunt it, kill it, bag it, tag it, and scuttle home with it to enjoy our purchase the same flipping day we bought it, which was the only reason to venture out of the man cave to begin with. And even then, only after looking at it and holding it in our own hot, grubby little mitts to satisfy ourself that it's what we wanted to begin with, and didn't get stabbed by a forklift fork or trampled by a rogue herd of buffalo before paying for it. (We're still pretty sure the stocking
Amazon isn't helping that, not least of which because the one critical factor (year, edition, format, height, weight, molecular mass, or whatever you can think of) we have to know before plunking down our hard-won bullion will be the one thing Amazon's description will completely omit, every single gorram time. So we don't do Amazon, because they blow like that.
Except for the fact that Main Street, AKA Lame Street, isn't just driving people there, they've rented bulldozers and they're scooping people there by the metric f**k-ton, 24/7/365.