A retailer of a men’s specialty store in southern New Jersey wrote to me last week expressing the below.
I’m 61 years old, have been in the menswear business for 45 years and have owned my own store for 35 years. I wish that MR would spend more time writing about small stores, their successes, and what’s becoming their ultimate demise. Many stores like mine are first- and second-generation retailers in small towns who are struggling to the point of extinction. Online competition is quickly eroding not only department stores but also small hometown stores. With a new generation of shoppers who feel more comfortable shopping online than in person, and an older generation that no longer shops at all, or else they’re also learning to shop online, we are getting killed.
And what of the small stores’ future with no one to take over the helm? Many of us retailers are aging with no one to take our places. Talk to any of the regional sales reps and they will tell you their accounts are closing at an alarming rate, either by foreclosure or by attrition. And why would any smart young person even want to go into retailing? The enjoyment, the pride, the personal satisfaction is gone. There’s no future in taking over or opening a new clothing store: high rents, employee benefits, insurance, long hours, low pay, no retirement and of course the online competition from behemoths like Amazon, all this means we can’t compete. Even our own vendors are selling direct to our customers, making it impossible to win.
Clearly, the odds of making it are stacked against us. It’s my belief that in ten years or less you’ll see a complete obliteration of mom and pop clothing retailers. It’s sad that a once esteemed honored profession, the American dream of being a clothing store owner, will no longer exist. I’m not quitting yet, but I’m not sure how much more time I have. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.
I thank you for your time and wish you, your staff and your readers a very prosperous holiday season, good health and peace of mind in the new year.
If you have a topic or issue you’d like to discuss, or something you want to get off of your chest, please feel free to email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.