In the good old days, you had an idea of the work you wanted to do, and you worked hard to build your business from the ground up with your hands.
Buying and selling new widgets. Repairing them from your garage gradually morphed into a store and putting signage in the huge window. You rented or bought a cash register, bought a truckload of widgets on consignment, including repair parts.
You never dreamed of becoming a conglomerate and owning hundreds of stores and/or factories. You wanted to “make a living” for your family. Many times several of your family worked with you, and life was good!
When the Internet burst on the horizon and became cost-effective enough, many households owned one or more. It became necessary for your company to upgrade to computers and credit card purchases. Soon it became normal business practice. Advertising on the Internet brought more customers to your store, and some bought online, and you shipped to them. You never borrowed money; you invested your savings.
Then the world turned upside down! A brilliant entrepreneur realized that you could bring customers INTO your store via the Internet. You could SELL widgets to them online and ship products without ever seeing or meeting them in person! Customers liked the convenience of having their packages delivered right to their front door. But, they wanted to purchase from people they knew and trusted! They remembered meeting face to face and liked getting to know you via the pictures and videos of your business.
At least once during this time, you probably said, “Hell, I don’t want to know my customers; I just want to sell to them!” But that is just what the Internet was designed to accomplish between you and your customers.
Your customers could see pictures of you, your employees, and your business. You started selling many other things in addition to Widgets; your internet site had hundreds and sometimes thousands of items. New start-up companies started competing for your business. Entrepreneurs created sites where Mom and Pop could put goods online, along with people that just wanted to get rid of unwanted stuff. And it was good.
Eventually, the “Big Auction Companies” realized that they didn’t need Mom and Pop resale items; they could sell direct from the factory to a purchaser, making bigger profits, so Mom and Pop were cut out of the deal! Big Box Stores were happy to have their products online. Fulfillment centers were born to expedite the time to get packages from A to B. Everyone with a computer jumped on the bandwagon and created a storefront. Most failed because putting up a storefront didn’t cut it; you had to bring the customer to your site.
The Big Box Stores saw their stores were more often empty, while “discount” stores were thriving. Many invested early and heavily in the Internet and sophisticated computer systems, discovering where to have bulk inventory shipped by learning how many times someone bought that item at what store. This took the money, lots of money! Everyone hated the discount store except the consumers!
We now have big discount and luxury stores in the same growing metropolis, built via Credit but still profitable. Mom and Pop stores started becoming almost extinct. I know it is sad, but the customer demanded, and corporations listened; some think they listened too well. That’s for you to decide, but they are here to stay. Sorry, folks, but you can’t put the Genie back in the bottle.
I loved the old way too, but you must adapt to survive. I would love to live long enough to see what is “the next big thing!”
14 thoughts on “Do we want to go back to the good old days?”
That is the “next big question”, as predictions about the future go, maybe we don’t have to guess what kind of direction to expect. As humanity is currently rushing towards the abyss, we might have no choice, but to go back to the good old days. Only I don’t believe they will be as good.
I do like the convenience of buying on line. I think it became even more valuable during the lockdown. I always purchased from the Sears Big Book and had things delivered. So, I guess, I am a seasoned “not go into the store” customer. All that being said, I lived in a small town for 41 years with a shopping district. I always patronized those stores too because I enjoyed the feeling of living in a small town and wanted it to thrive. I have mixed feelings on this topic as you can tell by this rambling missive.
I sometimes wonder if the good old days are so good because of the rosy glasses we wear when looking back. But then I think, heck yeah they were good. We had the best music, the funnest fashions and hair, and oh those friendships. And yet, there are thing from today that I couldn’t live without. I choose to keep the best of both worlds. Merry Christmas Brenda. x
Well, there was a time in our life where most of our shopping had to be done online. Our son’s sensory issues were so severe we couldn’t get him through a store. That was how I ended up loving Amazon so much… before I “Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” as the song says. But I think that some things will have to change, because current retail models are built on expanding consumption, and our planet’s resources just won’t allow it indefinitely. And I know for me, as a customer who remembers what it was like when I worked customer service jobs being taught the importance of outstanding customer service, I am heartily sick of the crappy and crummy customer service that has come out of the dominance of digital shopping platforms. It is a fabulous thing to be able to go into a business, have them remember you, and have them treat you kindly because they know what it means to value you as a customer because they know their success is built on you being there and valuing them as a business.
I miss the times when people would make phone calls to their friends, and actually talk to them hanging out, instead of sitting face-to-face buried in their devices. I also miss the days of courting, minus the kids part. I don’t do hookup culture. The way to my heart is a love of my talents, even if they were just happy I was creating.
As someone who has loathed shopping all my life, married to a woman with the same attitude, I found the internet a real benefit. But it’s greatest disadvantage, as you say, Brenda, is the way that overinvestment in too few companies has effectively resulted in monopolies. Monopolies have never served any other than the owners of those outfits. So, I search the internet looking for alternatives. People are often encouraged by price alone. Looking around, it’s possible to find alternatives to the Big Guys where products are available either at the same price or for just a tiny amount more, and my dollar (UK pound, actually) generally goes to the smaller operator. Maybe if a few more people took the same stance, we might make the monopolies change their ways.
On another front, we should all be buying less of this stuff. It’s consumption and the idiotic trading between nations the results from such excess that is creating the climate emergency. Time to go back to the idea of repairing rather than replacing, and asking two questions before we buy: 1. Do I actually NEED (as opposed to simply desire) this? 2. Is it sustainable?
Brenda I love your story and I watch shows (like westerns) and I think how fun it would be to be able to get to know the people really well, building a relationship. I love the show Call the Mid-wife it is BBC and a NetFlix show. Hearing you talk about it reminds me of the lady that has the little store every shops for fabric, bras and other items like ribbons which were a real special item. I think I would have made a great cowgirl. I can sure ride a horse and I bet you could too. There is something to be said for working hard along side of your parents to build something. You always sound like you had a great family life Brenda and I am so glad that you did. This is a very wonderful story. Thank you for sharing, I love the pictures too, that you are included. Sending you much love my dear friend. Love you, Joni
I wish I had more pictures from that time, but alas, we did not have cameras in the good old days. And film development was expensive. I treasure the few from that time. It is funny because I wanted to have a horse so much when we lived on the farm, and when I went back home I did buy one. I loved Chocolate Boy and he was my friend and Mother Confessor. I will have to tell that story and I do have pictures of that era. Sending back that love and hugs, friend.
You are a great story teller and the visuals really help as I am fascinated by the story and love it when there are visuals as well. Either way your stories are so interesting. I am not surprised that you had a horse. I bet you had fun with your horse and they are so smart. I really enjoyed it Brenda. Thanks for the love and hugs and sending back more. ❤️🤗
I definately will have to tell that story, it was a fun time in my life and a time I really needed.❤❤❤❤
I was about to choose, “the old days,” then I realized the advantages of the new tech and concepts through your post, so I chance my mind. I want to adapt and survive too. Nostalgia though nice can hold us back from moving forward
Nostalgia has its worth, but there is no turning back the clock….
Now people can get jobs without meeting their employers. It is a big change for some of us who can remember. I like your optimism.
I am glad that I don’t have to look for a job anymore. At least not for a while.