Retail news grabs headlines
There was an interesting juxtaposition of news this week in the pages of the Daily Journal.
On Tuesday, there was the breaking news of the end of retail giant Sears. While the news changed throughout the course of the day and more time was given by the bankruptcy court to investors trying to purchase the company, there is no mistaking the once-mighty retailer is seemingly near the end.
It would hope there is no rejoicing over Sears’ demise, but I know better. There is a certain segment of society which revels in the misfortune of others.
On the flip side of what could be called “A Tale of Two Retailers,” there was the news which came out of the Bradley Planning & Zoning Commission the very next day. While there had been some unconfirmed reports, this news was the first official announcement Menards would be expanding its operation in Bradley.
One longtime retailer seemingly at the end of its life, and another retailer looking to grow.
Of course, this dynamic is at play each and every day in our society. Seemingly, someone’s misfortune presents an opportunity for another.
There is no question — and Sears officials likely would admit it now — that many missteps were taken that led the retail king to be almost an afterthought in the minds of the shopping public.
But that doesn’t make this situation any less sad.
However, all is not lost for brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers still are willing and eager to shop at them.
According to a recent Yahoo.com story regarding the pros and cons of online retail versus brick-and-mortar stores, 61 percent of consumers shop in-store, versus 31 who turn to the internet.
There is no denying, however, the two percentages keep coming closer together.
In addition, a recent Forbes story noted only 28 percent of small businesses are using the internet to sell their products.
So, brick and mortar still is viable. We see it every day in our community. We see it when companies, such as Menards, expands their presence. We see it when stores, such as Meijer, open here and become an instant success.
Brick and mortar still is the backbone of retail. But to remain the backbone, much must be done to maintain that presence.
It is not exactly retail — at least in the classic sense — but the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau office, 100 Marquette Place, Manteno, has turned a portion of its office into a retail area.
The store, Ka Co — The Local Exchange, is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The retailer gives people a taste of what Kankakee County has to offer, meaning products specific to the region.
Among the items available: Plockman’s Mustard; local attorney and author Dave Baron’s zoning map artwork called UpZoning!; Bill Yohnka’s engraved chalkboard art on a blanket; Happy Monday Coffee Roaster ground coffee; BrickStone Brewery beer glass; and Andy Palmer’s Growler Caddy and jewelry.
Staci Wilken, the organization’s executive director, said the area opened Jan. 2. A formal ribbon-cutting for the “store” is being planned.
“This is certainly not about competing with any of our local businesses. This is about promoting our attractions and building community pride. We want to give people a taste of what is to come when they come visit here,” Wilken said.
Items can be purchased with cash or credit.
“We are not a competitor. We are an encourager,” she said of the store. “We want to promote others. We are thrilled. Tons of people have been in already.”
She said the store is not simply to help local businesses sell their products, but to push tourism through these products.
“We will be very specific about what will be in the store. The products must be in line with our mission and that is to promote attractions in Kankakee County.”