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(Washington Post)   Listen, lad. All the job creators said I was daft to build a big box store in a Pennsylvania hicktown, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It went bankrupt. So, I built a second one. That went bankrupt. So I built a third one   ( washingtonpost.com) divider line
    More: Fail, J.C. Penney, Retailing, Department store, Shopping mall, Shenango Valley Mall, J. C. Penney Historic District, Rite Aid, Barbara  
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2850 clicks; posted to Business » on 02 Jan 2018 at 9:20 AM (28 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2018-01-02 08:53:41 AM  
As he said to his heir

i.imgur.comView Full Size
 
2018-01-02 08:55:21 AM  
He also built a beautiful beach house on the sand

biblestudy1.comView Full Size
 
2018-01-02 09:03:58 AM  
So subby DRTFA
 
2018-01-02 09:08:36 AM  
Huge tracts of land?
 
2018-01-02 09:17:05 AM  
No singing!
 
2018-01-02 09:24:36 AM  
I don't know why anyone is surprised by this anymore.  This is the end result of demanding ever larger short term profits while not giving a damn about the long term suvivability of a business.

If you end up bleeding the patient over and over, they may end up being healthy for a short period, but sooner or later, they're going to drop over dead from blood loss.
 
2018-01-02 09:37:29 AM  
Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.
 
2018-01-02 09:42:24 AM  
Maybe it's weird, but I miss the world of old-school department stores and indoor shopping malls.
But mostly I miss Borders.
 
2018-01-02 09:43:28 AM  
Wow, it's almost as if businesses who don't change their antiquated business models or pay their employees a decent wage (so they can afford their own sh*t) tend to suffer.
 
2018-01-02 09:44:55 AM  

ElwoodCuse: Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.


So long as there is below freezing weather, there will be malls in the north.
 
2018-01-02 09:45:10 AM  
Western PA. My business instructor in college used to tell me horror stories about it. She described it as an economic wasteland. The first time I drove across state, I figured I was going to met by roving bandit gangs.
 
2018-01-02 09:45:40 AM  
This is happening in small towns everywhere, and it's pretty easy to understand why.  These retail establishments out there were always operating at the margins.  A Macy's in Hermitage, PA is not going to have the foot traffic the one in Manhattan, NY has.  Amazon comes along and reduces profits just enough to make these marginally profitable stores completely unprofitable.  The smaller stores in rural America who may not carry as much are particularly vulnerable to Amazon online shopping.

Small towns originally were founded to take advantage of the local agriculture or mining as a whistle stop or local distribution center.  Well, agriculture and mining are dying, and have been since the 1930s.  Automation has made the remaining jobs scarce.  So when the factories dried up, people went to work for less money at the local Wal Mart or mall.

Now that's hosed, as even if Amazon DOESN'T take your market share, you'll have to automate cashiers to stay competitive anyway, and there goes the last of the retail jobs in small town America.

And if they think Amazon building a warehouse next door is going to save them, good luck as Amazon pays warehouse workers starvation wages because they feel they are temporary employees until the warehouses are almost fully automated, which shouldn't be more than a few years away at most.

Small towns are dead, dead, dead.
 
2018-01-02 09:48:41 AM  

ElwoodCuse: Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.


I think it depends on the mall/city. We have 3 large malls that do very well around Columbus, and then they just built a new outlet mall by one of the large major malls and it's been doing really well too.
 
2018-01-02 09:50:07 AM  
Well at least they're trying and give a shiat.

The use it or lose it guy is correct, and they should be trying to win more local business like the coffee shop. Big retailers bring a lot but don't give a single shiat about your town or anyone in it and will leave when it's convenient for them to do so.
 
2018-01-02 09:51:08 AM  

ElwoodCuse: Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.


NowheresVille?

It's 5 miles from Youngstown, OH (the MSA has half a million people), at the intersection of I-376 and I-80.

It's like asking why you'd build a mall in Cherry Hill, NJ -- a rinky-dink hicktown in south Jersey.

\because it's 5 miles from Philadelphia
 
2018-01-02 10:09:10 AM  

This text is now purple: ElwoodCuse: Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.

NowheresVille?

It's 5 miles from Youngstown, OH (the MSA has half a million people), at the intersection of I-376 and I-80.

It's like asking why you'd build a mall in Cherry Hill, NJ -- a rinky-dink hicktown in south Jersey.

\because it's 5 miles from Philadelphia


Youngstown is right in the middle of the meth/heroin depression, unless you are opening a burner phone store, a payday lending shop or a Walmart you are taking a risk opening a store here.
 
2018-01-02 10:12:25 AM  

This text is now purple: Youngstown, OH


City Motto: "The Gateway to Akron"
 
2018-01-02 10:12:31 AM  

This text is now purple: ElwoodCuse: Malls in actual cities are dying off because people hate malls, never mind whatever you can buy online. OF COURSE this little rinky-dink mall in nowheresville is just about kaput, I'm shocked this place still has any stores in it.

NowheresVille?

It's 5 miles from Youngstown, OH (the MSA has half a million people), at the intersection of I-376 and I-80.

It's like asking why you'd build a mall in Cherry Hill, NJ -- a rinky-dink hicktown in south Jersey.

\because it's 5 miles from Philadelphia


I live in Toms River, NJ.  Which is only slightly less rinky-dink (by population) than Cherry Hill.  Our local mall anchored by Sears, Boscovs, Macys and Pennys is doing fine.  Of course there are a lot of older people here and it's mostly white and republican and the crime rate is relatively low so ....
 
2018-01-02 10:28:17 AM  
Yes, Hermitage is nowheresville. Zero people from Youngstown are going to a dirt mall in another state. Youngstown already has a huge indoor mall/strip mall complex just north of the city called Eastwood Mall.
 
2018-01-02 10:30:18 AM  
The real killers of the mall are just north and just south of the mall.  Other big box stores moved in (the usual suspects) and drained the custom from that mall.  Add in online and of course it dies.  This is typical overbuild and retrench, with a bit of discounters moving in to chop the bottom out of the mall.

I would also guess that the local mills are down a shift from when that mall was built, or the need for workers is down due to increased automation.  But the overbuilding by itself is sufficient to kill the mall.
 
2018-01-02 11:03:02 AM  
Ah, the daily 'malls are failing' story.
At least this one was actually well written.
 
2018-01-02 11:09:54 AM  

AurizenDarkstar: I don't know why anyone is surprised by this anymore.  This is the end result of demanding ever larger short term profits while not giving a damn about the long term suvivability of a business.

If you end up bleeding the patient over and over, they may end up being healthy for a short period, but sooner or later, they're going to drop over dead from blood loss.


It has nothing to do with profits, short or long term, and everything to do with a ladies overabundance of retail space. Malls were a huge fan in the 80's - the way "luxury loft apartments" are now. Speculative developers built them anywhere they could get some cheap land, easy permits, and tax concessions. And for a while, it was ok. Retailers were fine putting up with lower per store profits, so long as it was made up in volume. But when e-commerce finally took off, those small profits began disappearing. The right thing to do would have been too shutter excess inventory immediately and consolidate locations to a manageable and sustainable number. Instead, retailers faced a tragedy of the commons problem - no one wanted to be the first one to close slightly profitable locations, it off fear that they would lose that business to competitors who kept their doors open. Instead, they kept cutting back - fewer employees on the floor, or one less janitor, or turning some of the lights off, or restocking less frequently. At first, no one really minded, but sales were still declining, so cost cutting measure were ramped up, and eventually these malls and stores became quite unpleasant to visit. Sales kept dropping, pushed by e-commerce on one end and decreasing quality on the other. Now, a lot of these malls are finally facing the reality that they were never sustainable. There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores. They would have been much better served with a couple of outdoor shopping plazas with a few different kinds of shops with smaller footprints, focused around a walkable downtown.

It's not the retail apocalypse. It's the urban planning apocalypse.
 
2018-01-02 11:14:19 AM  
AllYourFarkAreBelongToMe:
I live in Toms River, NJ.  Which is only slightly less rinky-dink (by population) than Cherry Hill.  Our local mall anchored by Sears, Boscovs, Macys and Pennys is doing fine.  Of course there are a lot of older people here and it's mostly white and republican and the crime rate is relatively low so ....

Boscov's is the only department store I have been to in the past few years.....they could be attached to a completely dead mall and their parking lot will still be full. Hopefully they manage to survive as a company as they are one of the few decent brick and mortar stores left.
 
2018-01-02 11:54:43 AM  
When he hears shoppers complaining about the state of the mall, he offers them a simple solution: "Use it," he says, "or lose it."

There you go, folks. If you're tired of malls dotting the landscape and screwing up miles of traffic, property values, and crime rates, just stop going to malls. I live near the Southcenter Mall, in Washington. Because so few folks live here, but so many folks visit here, our crime rate is ridiculously high, especially when it comes to theft (surprise, surprise) - so much so that we skew the crime rate for the entire goddamned county. This tiny location has double the violent crime rate of the U.S. national average, and nearly six times the property crime rate.

Let them close.
 
2018-01-02 11:57:17 AM  
When he hears shoppers complaining about the state of the mall, he offers them a simple solution: "Use it," he says, "or lose it."

"We're not going to renovate and barely perform basic maintenance but you better keep shopping here unless you want to lose your local retail." Yea, that'll really bring back the customers who have fled to Amazon.
 
2018-01-02 12:06:34 PM  
Dammit, I was hoping the third one fell over, caught fire, then went bankrupt.
 
2018-01-02 12:15:24 PM  

Lusiphur: AurizenDarkstar: I don't know why anyone is surprised by this anymore.  This is the end result of demanding ever larger short term profits while not giving a damn about the long term suvivability of a business.

If you end up bleeding the patient over and over, they may end up being healthy for a short period, but sooner or later, they're going to drop over dead from blood loss.

It has nothing to do with profits, short or long term, and everything to do with a ladies overabundance of retail space. Malls were a huge fan in the 80's - the way "luxury loft apartments" are now. Speculative developers built them anywhere they could get some cheap land, easy permits, and tax concessions. And for a while, it was ok. Retailers were fine putting up with lower per store profits, so long as it was made up in volume. But when e-commerce finally took off, those small profits began disappearing. The right thing to do would have been too shutter excess inventory immediately and consolidate locations to a manageable and sustainable number. Instead, retailers faced a tragedy of the commons problem - no one wanted to be the first one to close slightly profitable locations, it off fear that they would lose that business to competitors who kept their doors open. Instead, they kept cutting back - fewer employees on the floor, or one less janitor, or turning some of the lights off, or restocking less frequently. At first, no one really minded, but sales were still declining, so cost cutting measure were ramped up, and eventually these malls and stores became quite unpleasant to visit. Sales kept dropping, pushed by e-commerce on one end and decreasing quality on the other. Now, a lot of these malls are finally facing the reality that they were never sustainable. There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores. They would have been much better served with a couple of outdoor shopping plazas with a few different kinds of shop ...


I will subscribe to your newsletter sir. That is fine thinking.

The other way to compete is by providing something that on-line can't (yet) which is face to face service. I love Amazon and shop there often but if I'm buying something pricier it's nice to be able to touch it. And there's definitely a role for someone who can curate large selections into the best selections and make it easier to choose.

Good service employees are worth their weight in gold. They will keep customers coming back. Service jobs are hard and require some fine skills.
 
2018-01-02 01:44:55 PM  

MBZ321: AllYourFarkAreBelongToMe:
I live in Toms River, NJ.  Which is only slightly less rinky-dink (by population) than Cherry Hill.  Our local mall anchored by Sears, Boscovs, Macys and Pennys is doing fine.  Of course there are a lot of older people here and it's mostly white and republican and the crime rate is relatively low so ....

Boscov's is the only department store I have been to in the past few years.....they could be attached to a completely dead mall and their parking lot will still be full. Hopefully they manage to survive as a company as they are one of the few decent brick and mortar stores left.


Boscov is still alive? I remember going in there yearly with 20 bucks from my Dad to get my Mom his xmas gift for her.

/Memories
//"It's not that I'm a bad giftgiver, shortymac, it's just that women are difficult and your Mother always changes her mind..." *eyeroll*
 
2018-01-02 02:09:04 PM  

Lusiphur: There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores.


But, they did (thinking Sharon... well before they consolidated themselves in a mall, as was the fashion). For 60+ years, did.  There wasn't some over-investing fool who put a Sears and Penney's in Sharon in the last 15 years... they were there (and doing fine) from the 1940s and 50s.  My rural home town of ~16,000 had several department stores, too.  The Penney's in the article is just the last gasp of that.

Of course, that's back when a job was rolling steel or making hydraulic cylinders.  Not hoping that you get called in for 20 hours this week retailing discount t-shirts from Guatemala.
 
2018-01-02 03:11:09 PM  

hi13760: So subby DRTFA


Who reads the articles?
 
2018-01-02 03:39:33 PM  

LadySusan: Lusiphur: AurizenDarkstar: I don't know why anyone is surprised by this anymore.  This is the end result of demanding ever larger short term profits while not giving a damn about the long term suvivability of a business.

If you end up bleeding the patient over and over, they may end up being healthy for a short period, but sooner or later, they're going to drop over dead from blood loss.

It has nothing to do with profits, short or long term, and everything to do with a ladies overabundance of retail space. Malls were a huge fan in the 80's - the way "luxury loft apartments" are now. Speculative developers built them anywhere they could get some cheap land, easy permits, and tax concessions. And for a while, it was ok. Retailers were fine putting up with lower per store profits, so long as it was made up in volume. But when e-commerce finally took off, those small profits began disappearing. The right thing to do would have been too shutter excess inventory immediately and consolidate locations to a manageable and sustainable number. Instead, retailers faced a tragedy of the commons problem - no one wanted to be the first one to close slightly profitable locations, it off fear that they would lose that business to competitors who kept their doors open. Instead, they kept cutting back - fewer employees on the floor, or one less janitor, or turning some of the lights off, or restocking less frequently. At first, no one really minded, but sales were still declining, so cost cutting measure were ramped up, and eventually these malls and stores became quite unpleasant to visit. Sales kept dropping, pushed by e-commerce on one end and decreasing quality on the other. Now, a lot of these malls are finally facing the reality that they were never sustainable. There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores. They would have been much better served with a couple of outdoor shopping plazas with a few different kinds of shop ...

I will subscribe to your newsletter sir. That is fine thinking.

The other way to compete is by providing something that on-line can't (yet) which is face to face service. I love Amazon and shop there often but if I'm buying something pricier it's nice to be able to touch it. And there's definitely a role for someone who can curate large selections into the best selections and make it easier to choose.

Good service employees are worth their weight in gold. They will keep customers coming back. Service jobs are hard and require some fine skills.


This is true for a valuable enough product - jewellery, electronics, nicer clothes, etc. And it's already the way a lot of retail is going. Many stores are shifting to a limited inventory/"try it before you buy it" style places. We'll see if it actually works.

The other option for retailers, and one that I'm personally most interested in, is a return to local products. I know people love to make fun of the hipster "locally sourced artisanal everything" mentality, but offering communities a chance to essentially build their own economy is a powerful driver if growth, along with giving people a reason to go to the stores.

Unfortunately, neither of these plans will work for communities like the one spotlit in the article. The community is simply too small and too poor to super anything but a "cheap as I can get it" retail strategy.
 
2018-01-02 04:01:45 PM  

TheSubjunctive: Lusiphur: There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores.

But, they did (thinking Sharon... well before they consolidated themselves in a mall, as was the fashion). For 60+ years, did.  There wasn't some over-investing fool who put a Sears and Penney's in Sharon in the last 15 years... they were there (and doing fine) from the 1940s and 50s.  My rural home town of ~16,000 had several department stores, too.  The Penney's in the article is just the last gasp of that.

Of course, that's back when a job was rolling steel or making hydraulic cylinders.  Not hoping that you get called in for 20 hours this week retailing discount t-shirts from Guatemala.


No they didn't. They supported much different kinds of department stores in the 50s and 60s. Basically, the Walmarts of the period, where you could buy pretty much everything, from a washing machine to a Sunday suit. Remember, that was largely before the time of specialized big box retail. You didn't have the option of going to Best Buy for a TV, or any of a number of chain stores for clothing. You just had the one department store, maybe two, and then some specialized local retailers. It was a completely different retail environment, and you absolutely can't compare it to the retail environment of today.

Most of these large mall anchor department stores popped up in the 70s, and so are a relatively modern thing. Yes, the economic conditions have changed since then, but even during the height of America's boom in manufacturing (which itself was completely unsustainable - it existed because the rest of the world was basically bombed to rubble, and wages were essentially in a state of steady decline since the early 50s), there was no way in hell that these small communities could have kept a modern mall going indefinitely. Malls sprang up in the 70s and 80s, and have been slipping since then.
 
2018-01-02 07:16:13 PM  
let's talk about success. A 60+ woman, meticulously dressed and turned out, with a positive work ethic is the face of your company. Or is it the tattooed, pierced teen who uses  "like" for every other word and has an Iphone growing from his hand?
 
2018-01-02 11:52:11 PM  

gnoshyt_sherlocque: let's talk about success. A 60+ woman, meticulously dressed and turned out, with a positive work ethic is the face of your company. Or is it the tattooed, pierced teen who uses  "like" for every other word and has an Iphone growing from his hand?


And then there's people like me that would be more likely to talk to the teen because he likely knows what he's talking about and isn't going to ask me 5000 questions and try to talk about the local Bluehair Garden Club and ask me if I've accepted Jesus as my savior.
 
2018-01-02 11:53:35 PM  

TheSubjunctive: Lusiphur: There's no way a lower class exurb town of 16,000 can support a department store, let alone 3 department stores.

But, they did (thinking Sharon... well before they consolidated themselves in a mall, as was the fashion). For 60+ years, did.  There wasn't some over-investing fool who put a Sears and Penney's in Sharon in the last 15 years... they were there (and doing fine) from the 1940s and 50s.  My rural home town of ~16,000 had several department stores, too.  The Penney's in the article is just the last gasp of that.

Of course, that's back when a job was rolling steel or making hydraulic cylinders.  Not hoping that you get called in for 20 hours this week retailing discount t-shirts from Guatemala.


That was also before people bought stuff online.
 
2018-01-02 11:57:48 PM  

FormlessOne: When he hears shoppers complaining about the state of the mall, he offers them a simple solution: "Use it," he says, "or lose it."

There you go, folks. If you're tired of malls dotting the landscape and screwing up miles of traffic, property values, and crime rates, just stop going to malls. I live near the Southcenter Mall, in Washington. Because so few folks live here, but so many folks visit here, our crime rate is ridiculously high, especially when it comes to theft (surprise, surprise) - so much so that we skew the crime rate for the entire goddamned county. This tiny location has double the violent crime rate of the U.S. national average, and nearly six times the property crime rate.

Let them close.


Yeah, I for one would not mourn Southcenter closing.

Northgate has reinvented itself as a transportation hub thanks to the new light rail going in there, plus they consolidated big box stores there so it's now a 'third place' hangout.

Southcenter, last time I was there, was just another mall.

Hell, Westlake Center replaced their entire third floor, which had been a terribly shiatty food court, with a brand new Saks Off 5th Avenue.

That was just inefficient use of space.  Essentially, Westlake Center (although they would freak out if everyone knew this) is basically an urban outlet mall.
 
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