Once upon a time, Main Street America was filled with specialty shops that reflected the unique character of the proprietors and offered us very personalized attention. When we looked for a special occasion dress the owner took pride in helping find the perfect fit and if it wasn’t available in the store, they would order it, tailor it, and give us the detailed attention we desired. The florist knew our partner’s favorite color roses and the pharmacist understood the specific health challenges of our families. Specialization and expertise at retail points of purchase are increasingly rare nowadays.
Today we enjoy the convenience of one-stop shopping at national chains that carry the same goods from coast to coast. Our time is valuable so we gravitate towards what is expedient. These mass marketers strive to cover all our needs under one roof. Their big data systems optimize the shelf space, but often I find the selection average. And while it satisfies routine purchases, it falls short when I seek something more unique and personal. For example, while wine is available in the supermarket, I prefer the guidance of the specialty sommelier who helps me better match taste and value. Big box retail stores are losing relevance, while e-commerce and specialty stores grow in appeal. continue reading