So, I am one of those-A “Barnsie” (a Barnes and Noble fanatic). I’m like the stuffed bear that wears their name and sits on their shelves during Christmas, except you will find me sitting there all year long! I gain so much joy from this place. From the warm pretzels, to the adorable gift section, to the amazing array of books (of course), Barnes and Noble is a one stop shop.
I can’t even begin to calculate how many hours I have spent there. When I was in college in the mid to late 90s we would have fraps there and meet for studying. In the early 2000s before getting married and having a kid I would go there on Friday night’s (yes I am a nerd) and rear and meet guys. Because I figured if they can read and aren’t put drinking then maybe they are decent:). After having my kid, we spent hour upon hour at the train table where she learned how to share and play with other kids. Not to mention the Friday story times.
So you get it, this place means something to me. That is why I was a little up in arms when I heard on the radio the other day that they have lost 10 percent profit in the last 2 years. We know why. People buy online because it is cheaper. But how much is a few dollars? I am the kind of person that if I want to read a book, I don’t want to wait for it. And I am also the person that would rather support a business that I can see the products and experience them in person.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been ordering online since it started in the 90s. But a lot of times it was four things that I couldn’t just walk into a store and get or for merchants that only had catalogs and no stores. And I have definitely used the “big” online retailer that is putting everyone out of business, no need to mention the name, but this business is the originator of running a business with no real physical inventory or space.
And yes it’s convenient to get things shipped in an hour or the next day and to have groceries delivered. But there are other alternatives like ordering your food from your local grocery store. And many companies are trying to compete now with the big A by doing variations of services they offer. Barnes & Noble has a deal now where you order online and you can pick it up in the store within an hour. So, they are trying to compete because they know the power these online discount giants have and that they can be the ones to put them under in the way that Walden Books and Borders went down.
What I am trying to express to you all is to go into your favorite stores when you can. Not just to try on an outfit or read a book and then order it somewhere cheaper. Actually purchase it from them, and if they don’t have it there, then let them order it online and ship it to you for free. You don’t have to join a program for $100, most merchants will ship it to their location or yours without an extra charge. Barnes & Noble is not the only place that is in danger of closing stores, there are a lot of businesses on the brink of not being around many more years.
If we all don’t do something soon and continue to look for the cheapest viable option versus quality, we will be owned by the online retailer monopolies. Once our favorite stores are closing and it becomes a regular thing, then online merchants that don’t have physical stores will be able to charge us whatever they want and we’ll be stuck with it. This may not happen for another 5, 10 or 15 years. But when it happens, we will be screwed and paying more than we were at real stores. And we will eventually miss the experience of actually going shopping as an outing.
I had a family member who lost her formal wear business because people would come into her store to see how wedding dresses or prom dresses fit and then order them online for less. Yes it’s great that online merchants are doing well, but small businesses are the backbone of America. And they employee people in your local communities. I worked in a small business in high school and learned a lot about work ethic and learned several sides of the business at 17 years old.
When traveling to other countries or even visiting cool small towns in your state, visiting the little stores are what makes the trip fun and interesting. And while Barnes & Noble is far from a mom’s and Pop’s store, (I still condone buying from small book stores as well), B&N is a place that a lot of people go to to talk over cocoa and a good read. It’s like a home away from home. It is also one of many examples of stores that were once a great stronghold in the retail industry in our country that is now struggling. And though convenience and expediency are great traits, sometimes just walking into a place and experiencing an item in person can’t be replaced.
I wrote this post because I am no longer worried about my phone charger being here in a day or less. I am moreso thinking about the future of commerce and how it will effect our towns and cities and out country. I have vowed to only order from a store’s website unless it is just an obscure object I can’t find anywhere else and have to try an online commerce option. I am only one person and may not fix the problem. But if I could do my part to not contribute to the demise of these companies, especially my beloved B&N, I will. I can’t tell you what to do, but it is just food for thought…