Monday, March 22, 2010

disappearing businesses.

Of the 4 Hollywood Videos in Albuquerque, 3 are having closing sales. There are only 2 Blockbusters left, both on the uber-westside, one that appears to be practically in Rio Rancho. This is a weird development, at least to me, because I remember when I was younger begging to go to the video store, and there always being one around. There was a Blockbuster just down the street from our house as kids, and there were even movie rental sections in most of the grocery stores.

I know this isn't a recent development, but, as I rent most all of my stuff from Netflix, I'm only now discovering it.

The benefits of Netflix and subscription-style services don't need me to extol them but it is fascinating to me to think about the domino effect that these sorts of shutterings can have on the community at large. The vanishing of rental-stores would seem at first glance to help out the mom and pop joints, but if big business rentals can't compete with Netflix, why would a local store? So we have the closing of both local and national level rental stores, which pushes already-established businesses to splinter even further. Big box stores like Wal-Mart obviously have the shelf space for everything, but stores like Hastings and Borders (even Barnes and Noble) which seemed, at least to me, in my childhood, to be primarily book stores (or music in the case of Hastings) now have to flood their floors with a variety of merchandise, some of which they know something about (presumably) and most of which they don't. They sell board games in Borders, movies in B&N and incense and posters at Hastings. Why? Because once people are in the store, businesses are trying to squeeze anything they can out of their customers. As previous markets evaporate, businesses that have been successful, even if only marginally so, try to shoehorn in as much of that evaporating model as they can, in at attempt to vacuum up any leftover crumbs.

It's not just that it seems to me, but this is quite obviously a failing model.

So what's to be done, then? Are we just to concede market space to the clear winners? Should everyone except Netflix stop renting movies, should everyone except Nike stop selling shoes? Clearly, this can't be. Competition has to exist, in order to help the market thrive. Or, at least, that's the theoretical answer. But in the world that we're living in, I can't help but look out and think that the real-world evidence isn't supporting that theoretical answer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've heard (on that rare contraption, radio) that Blockbuster online is still in it and giving netflix a run for their money. Untrue?