Where Are the Five-and-Dimes?

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This summer I took my daughter and her friend for a walk through downtown Allegan. A small town located in southwest Michigan where I lived as a child. I marveled at how the downtown area was just as I remembered. As we walked, I daydreamed back to a better time. When I was younger, the world was a new and grandma gave me money that was burning a hole in my pocket. I spent a lot of time and money, in that downtown area. I was impressed by the dedication of the local store owners to keep their businesses open, and try to compete with big box retail, and e-commerce. I questioned whether the Springrove Variety Store is immune to the current economic disease that plagues many companies, or are they still around merely due to a dedicated store owner. Trends would prove that Springrove Variety is the exception and the reality is that the five and dimes, for the most part, are dead. As consumers shop online at Amazon or Best Buy, they may be able to see all the features, benefits, and pricing of products, but do they think “What killed Main Street’s five-and-dimes? Was it big box retail or the internet?” Do these consumers realize there is more to the shopping experience than just talking to name-tagged, 20-somethings wearing brightly-colored polo shirts who seem uneager to assist customers? Shopping experiences over the phone can be better than brick and mortar big box retail. But this is only because of the foreign sounding, yet helpful, account representatives who are located somewhere outside the US. I suspect the answer to what killed the shopping experience is big box retail competitive prices, big retail demise with the emerging success of e-commerce, and the revival of retro shops, including dime stores. The good ol’ days-Gran... ... middle of paper ... ...e not vanished entirely and there are still a few resilient stores that remain open, it is still saddening that the five-and-dimes aren’t on every main street. Now customers can Google what they are looking and with some persistence find the products they are seeking. Shopping in person had its benefits; a customer could walk around, looking at and touching working displays. Now the research will involve finding high-resolution photos posted on online products pagers, reading manufacturer’s owner’s manuals, and perusing through online customer review. This valuable information, available online, allows consumers to know the products even before they click the “buy now” button. Even though they can just buy with their credit card online and the customers can still get the five-and-dime shopping experience, but only if the sales person knows what he or she is doing.

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