by Stu Nifoussi

We all saw it coming, maybe five or ten years down the road, but the pandemic accelerated everything.

For years, certainly, since the turn of the 21st century, it’s been creeping up on us. The winning players in the new retail economy have huge piles of money backing them. They are either venture capital-funded or public companies that can go on losing money while they wipe out smaller, more conventional competitors. 

As COVID-19 began to close down our nation in the spring, only “essential” retailers were allowed to stay open in most states. So, retailers like Target, Walmart, and Costco, all of whom sell clothing, housewares, home textiles, and lots of other non-essential items, could present everything in the store to anyone, regardless of how essential. The major online players may have suffered a bit from lower demand for clothing while people were sheltering at home. However, they still managed to sell apparel, stealing share from smaller competitors.

All that leads us to where we are today. Many retailers, restaurants, service companies, travel destinations, and transportation providers are trying to pick up the pieces with one hand still tied behind their backs. It’s not easy, and many have already been lost. But the bigger, well-funded merchants will survive, as long as they were healthy at the start. Where does that leave the hundreds of thousands of small businesses and “essential” entrepreneurs? To a great extent, out in the cold. The stimulus money may have helped for a while, but now it’s running out as the nation goes into heavier debt. In the meantime, the stock market seems to be shrugging the whole thing off, ignoring the 30 million or so “little people” who are out of work and/or going broke.

Oy, that sure looks bad, doesn’t it? It is bad, but it also means exceptional opportunity over the next 5-10 years. Independent retailers who have survived, and who want to build back, will be doing it with fewer serious competitors. Entrepreneurs wanting to start retail, wholesale or online businesses will find lots of vacant real estate, low rents, talented employees, low interest rates, and hungry consumers looking for alternatives to big store and website sameness.

So, hang on if you can; brighter days are ahead, as always happens after a storm. Those who have the vision to change and catch the wave of the new consumerism are in for a long and happy ride up.


  1. As usual, you are right on target.

    Some of the best business is started during the worst times.

    We all miss you

    1. Spot on Stu as usual … Nobody says it better !
      Change, hope , vision , execution…
      Generational Transition arrives on time , every time !

    1. Thank you so much Stu for sharing your great wisdom. No rain, no rainbows! Everyone will figure out best
      for them how to proceed and get through this toughest time that had only given us opportunity to focus sharply, and think hard on how to go forward. Some may give up, some will pay attention and be stronger after learning hard lesson. This is a passionate business where each of us must pay sharper attentions and make it even better! Miss seeing your face out here! Wish you all the best!

  2. your wisdom of our marketplace are needed more then ever ,as always you supply the right attitude and the approach is spot on !!! THANK YOU MISS YOU

  3. I think back to when I was growing up in North Bergen New Jersey. My Mom would send me to a local grocery store on the corner, and above the store was the owners home. “Hanks” They were a wonderful family business that didn’t carry everything, but enough essentials to have a nice local neighborhood business. My Mom would give me a list of groceries to hand Hank, and he would pull the merchandise my Mom needed, and he would even put the bill on my Mom’s account to pay him back when her check came in. Hank wasn’t wealthy, but he and his family were living well and doin just fine. They had a nice business, nice car and home, and neighbors that loved them. I’m sharing this because Hank taught me something very valuable in my life, that being able to just stay comfortable was smart, safe and good. In my many years in this business, that simple philosophy is rare these days to see. People seem today never have enough, never satisfied and seem to want more and more. It’s like watching the same mistakes being made over and over again these days. The desire for more growth can and
    usually does bring on more and more problems, and more then often always seems to end very badly. Now that this pandemic has hit us all so hard, maybe it’s better to come back simple, come back safe, and always remember Hanks, keep it comfortable, keep it simple, keep it small, create, and make your life less complicated and more JOYful 🙏

  4. Stu,
    They must ask themselves is it all worth the huge investment holding inventory from manufactures who also sell direct to the same consumers.
    Finding margin builders today has become very difficult unless you invest in your own private label.
    Sourcing is expensive you need money in reserve which helps with the staying power that is needed..
    Turning inventory into cash is the key ” cash is king ” being liquid is freedom..
    Loved your article very hopeful and educational.

  5. Thank you Stu for sharing your wonderful wisdom with us. No rain, no rainbows! This time has given us all opportunity to process thought seriously on how to go forward. Knowing a couple who will be closing shoppe hurts tremendously, and knowing those whose passions to continue this big fight ahead of us makes me stronger. One thing is certain Fashion will continue and I will keep creating, ever better.
    Missing you in this industry! Wishing you all the best!

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