Thursday, April 6, 2017

4.6.17 Bee-otch of the Day: companies that can't compete with the internet

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on


Name: failing businesses
Age: various
Occupation: businesses
Last Seen: everywhere
Bee-otched For: not knowing how to compete against the internet

Last Saturday, I was at the Sears at Woodland Mall here in Grand Rapids and guess what I saw?

Slim Pickens.

No, I'm not talking about the actor from "Blazing Saddles" (besides, he died 34 years ago). I'm talking about the fact that the once-boisterous store was close to empty. It was announced in January that the store would be the only Sears in Michigan that was closing. Over time, the store's inventory was sold off at deep discount prices and on Saturday, the remaining items on the floor were sold up to 80% off. After 49 years in business, the store closed at Woodland Mall on Sunday.

Sears and sister chain Kmart made news recently when it was announced that they didn't think that they would have enough capital to last the rest of the year. Many blame the actions of CEO Eddie Lampert (that the dude seen above) for putting money on top of caring about their failing stores and employees.

But 28th Street in Grand Rapids isn't just losing Sears.

Just down the street from Woodland, MC Sports is shutting their doors after over 70 years in business. Just a few blocks down 28th Street, Family Christian Stores is also shuttering. Also in Woodland, The Limited closed and Radio Shack also closed their doors last year.

Oddly enough, Payless ShoeSource announced that they're closing 400 locations. There's two Payless stores next to each other virtually on 28th St.: one off the road and another in Woodland. Both are staying open.

Many of the closing chains blame their faltering sales on one major factor: the Ye Olde Internet. Amazon and other websites offer better deals than typical brick-and-mortar stores. True, getting items from a store is a lot faster than getting them off the web, but many sites offer free shipping and fast delivery and many folks don't mind the wait.

But it's not just brick-and-mortar stores that are having a hard time competing against the web.

Look at radio: last week in Detroit, heritage alt-rock station 89X shuttered their American offices, leaving 20 staffers jobless. Part of the reason for 89X's demise was the fact that they let their popular morning show, Dave and Chuck the Freak cross over to competitor WRIF and Canadian owners Bell Media have been clueless about how to properly run the station. As a result, the station has lost over 50% of their audience in the past few years. Detroit area listeners seem to not like having to sit through forced CanCon acts such as Billy Talent and Simple Plan just to hear The Killers, The Beastie Boys and AWOLNATION.

And yes, let's not even forget good 'ol Playboy. When the news broke that they were bringing back nudity, I was so happy that I actually bought an issue. Well, the boobs are back, but pussy is still verboten. I paid $10 so a bunch of horny photographers and behind-the-scenes folks can look at bush while we the consumer gets ripped off. Yet, pussy on the web is FREE! No wonder why Playboy's numbers are *ahem* sagging.

Times they are-a-changin'. The days of spending Saturday afternoon at the mall are ending for many people simply because the internet has everything. When I was a kid, my parents DREADED driving 30 miles one way to go to the mall. If the internet was around 25-30 years ago, they could have done all my back-to-school shopping on Amazon since we lived in the boonies.

But if there's a bright side, it's the fact that Woodland - unlike the average failing mall - is going to replace Sears. Instead of a store that will be abandoned for years, Woodland will replace Sears with a new wing of the mall, with 10-15 new stores and a new department store, von Maur.

But the question is, with so many retailers closing, will there be any takers?

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