Sunday, May 26, 2013

Online Stores Have No Seasonal Limits

My long time stint in the newspaper business, forced me to learn how to use computers better than most folks my age. ‘Course, I’m more at home with the software programs I had to use ten years ago, but thank goodness online shopping is pretty easy for anyone to master.

And I’ve pretty much mastered online shopping. It’s not that I’m trying to be the ruination of local Tassanoxie businesses, but Tassanoxie is a small town.

The Internet is not. 

When someone fusses at me for not shopping local, I compare shopping online to catalog shopping. No one complained all those years we merrily shopped from catalogs when local retailers didn’t carry what we needed. So why fuss at online shoppers now?

Let’s be honest. Small, family owned shops aren’t the mainstay of the local economy these days. Nationally and internationally owned businesses are popping up all over the place. Down here in my area of the South, one company is building various size stores in underserved rural areas. Truth is, that store isn’t locally owned since a big ole company in New York runs it.

But I know the locals are real happy to see a place where they can buy everything from milk to shoes without having to drive 30 miles to a bigger town.

Way back when, folks didn’t always have to drive miles to shop. All the little towns had a slew of downtown stores. Drive through any small town and you can see remnants of how it used to be. 

Then the “big box” retailers showed up and drove lots of small local businesses into the ground. The store that shall remain unnamed (and its counterparts) seemed to carry everything under the sun. Now I can’t lay all the blame on the big box guys, they wouldn’t have prospered if we hadn’t bought their stuff.

But it was like a perennial Christmas. Everything we ever thought we wanted or needed rounded up under one roof! Nowadays, their selections seem repetitive and just plain blah.

Here’s what I think happened: big box retailers compile shopper research, trends, etc. to  decide what to order. Since they all use the same software, soon, they’re all carrying the same items. (Mostly ones made in China, but that’s another story.) 

Another reason shopping at the big box store can be annoying is that the big box guys stock according to calendars that are are months out of whack.

For example, Christmas items appear at the end of summer and if you don’t snatch up what you want, it’s gone way before the actual holiday. What about spring? It’s in the stores by February. Only reason there are any plants available for spring planting is that the little rascals will die if the local home improvement store (notice how I artfully dodged naming names?) puts them out too early.

As it is, this spring has had all the home improvement store guys in a tizzy what with snowstorms sweeping across the mid-west in May. Who’s thinking about planting a summer garden when there’s snow on the ground?

Which is why I like online shopping, just like I enjoyed shopping from catalogs. No one really cares what time of the year it is in Tassanoxie. Christmas, Easter, Halloween...makes no nevermind to the Internet.

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