In many developed areas, gone is the day of the mom and pop shop. Almost nonexistent are the corner green grocers or the family-run bread shops, especially in suburbia where malls, chain restaurants, and department stores have paved the landscape.
Maybe my ideas about the past are a bit romantic, but this corporate scenario strikes me as sterile, bland, and boring. It seems like—more and more—everywhere I go, I encounter the same stores, the same restaurants, the same ole same old…
We’ve all seen it happen over and over: a major chain moves in and out goes the little shopkeeper. Some main streets have even folded up in the process. But there is good news too: small businesses are still purported to be the backbone of many industrial societies, creating 97% of all new jobs!
Nor am I against big department stores that source the same brand names with the same look, year in and year out, because I understand how some men resist change and prefer dressing alike to blend in with the crowd.
What I do oppose, however, is any callous attempt of large chain stores to make men and women who desire individuality, innovative looks, and unique designs appear irresponsible for not buying their cheap homogeneous labels.
I’m referring to a TV commercial of a major retail chain that I saw recently in the US. In the ad, a woman was shopping in a small boutique when her girlfriends walked in and, in their exchange of words, implied that she should never return.
The sad fact is that these specific types of independent clothing stores are the major promoters of emerging designers. Besides, to paraphrase Time Magazine’s words, small enterprises are incubators of innovation.
We are fortunate when we are able to choose where we will shop. But what kind of a world would it be if we all had to shop in the isles of that one chain retailer?
Photo top left Copyright Men’s Fashion by Francesco.