Opinion

Only so many retail dollars to be spent

retail dollars I read recently that a "big box" home improvement store is moving in nearby. I understand that Woodinville decided it didn't need such a store, but across the freeway they had other ideas.
   The concept of discount stores and the movement toward them is not new. I learned in college of a concept called "the wheel of retailing." Picture a big circle. Every store can be positioned somewhere in this circle. At the top of the circle are stores with high prices, high levels of service, brand names, image, and prestige.
   At the bottom of the circle are stores with low prices, little or no service, and of little aesthetic appeal. The theory is that, wherever a store is on this circle, they want to be somewhere else.
   A store at the top of the cycle is constantly criticized for its high prices, and feels pressure to lower them. Stores at the bottom of the circle get constant complaints about service, poor product quality, and lack of brand-name merchandise. They, too, feel pressure to change. And they both do.
   Discount stores add new brands and push training for their sales staff. Top of the line stores carry a line or two of lower priced merchandise, and run a few more sales. And so it goes.
   So where do we as consumers fit into all of this? We get the one and only vote. The stores are there to serve us, and so we get to tell them how we want things to go. We vote with our dollars.
   The bottom line is that there are only so many retail dollars to be spent. There isn't enough room, even in a booming town like Woodinville, for a never-ending supply of stores. Eventually, some will go out of business.
   I read recently that it is expected that 2,500 stores will go out of business in the U.S. this year. Who will they be? In Woodinville, it might be the small retailers, or it might be one of the "big box" stores.
   A friend recently said, "You can have your chicken today, but if you do, you won't have eggs tomorrow." Likewise, we can enjoy the slightly lower prices of the discount stores today, but we may not have the service, selection and expertise of the specialty stores tomorrow.

Dave Bartholomew, Woodinville