There’s Always a Bigger Fish

There’s Always a Bigger Fish

September 22, 2023

Through the years I have had the sad occasion to watch as store after store closed when a larger competitor rolled into the area. Regardless of how quaint or convenient the established store was, the shinier, larger, newer store lured the shoppers away.

You can argue consumer loyalty all you want, but there is a reason why Walmart displaced so many smaller supermarkets. Before those were general stores, before those, mom-and-pop stores. Sadly, those days are gone.

In most cases, when a larger store rolled in, customers of smaller stores, and the store owners, put up a “keep ’em out” fuss. In the end, the competition meant lower prices, more selection and extended hours. The purchasing-power of those larger stores were impossible for the smaller stores to surmount.

I really loved the mom-and-pop stores, and the country feed stores where time seemed to take a breather while you sat near a wood stove and swapped stories, but I have found I have a growing affection for big-box stores too.

In the last week, I have shopped at three separate Walmart stores while making a regional tour of my adult children’s homes. Without exception Walmart had everything I needed. Each of these stores were laid out so I could easily shop and be back in my car within minutes.

When Walmart was in its logarithmic growth stage, many observers thought this was the biggest of all retail fish; no enterprise would gobble this one up. But along came Amazon – a still bigger fish. In this moment, we are mostly convinced Amazon will rule the roost forever, but as Moore’s Law taught us with ever-increasing computer speed, there is likely another permutation of retailing that will sideline even the giants like Walmart and Amazon. I am interested to see what form that will take.

Tim Sharp, LLC

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