Monday's HOT MIC
Michael, count me out if you're arguing for less convenience, fewer choices, and higher prices. I have no desire to go to a mall — ever. The parking is a hassle, they're overrun by teenagers, and yes, the prices are high because the rent they charge for space in those mammoth complexes forces retailers to charge more than many of the products are worth. There are a couple of malls that opened near here in the late '70s/early '80s that were like palaces, complete with massive chandeliers and gold-plated fixtures in the bathrooms. They were nice for a while until someone got the bright idea to put them on the bus line. Suddenly they were packed with teenagers who showed up on weekends to cause trouble — including some full-blown riots. People stopped going there because they were dangerous and the malls were having trouble keeping tenants. Now those two malls lie in ruins (literally). The retail industry is going to have to retool itself it if wants to compete in this new Internet-fueled economy. It's possible that only specialized stores with exceptional customer service will survive — dress shops with fitting rooms, niche boutiques, and small fresh food markets. Or pop-up Amazon pickup locations (staffed by humans). That's part of the ebb and flow of a survival-of-the-fittest free market economy. The worst thing we can do is tell consumers they've got to pay higher prices so that Joe Neighbor's teenager can keep his job at Best Buy. We've become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping with quick delivery. That toothpaste isn't going back into the tube. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some shopping to do. "Alexa...order toilet paper."