Shopko announced today that they had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. This was not a huge surprise as the company has been struggling for years. The company announced the closure of 105 stores. As is often the case with these announcements, there is a rush to see if “your Shopko (or Sears, Kmart, etc.) is closing.”
On a recent road trip in eastern Oregon and Washington, I traveled through Walla Walla, WA. and visited a Shopko store. The store is located in the Wall Walla Town Center, a recently redeveloped mall. Prior to redevelopment it was the Blue Mountain Mall that had opened in1989, was considered a “dead mall” in the 2000s and went bankrupt in 2012. While the Walla Walla store that I visited will remain open, the store itself has the feeling one gets as of late in a Sears or Kmart.
It did not help that it was located next to this Gottschalks store.
Gottschalks went bankrupt themselves in July of 2009. This store has been vacant for nearly 10 years adjacent to the Shopko.
Lord & Taylor, one of New York City’s oldest and iconic department stores, has closed up shop after 104 years.
On opening day in 1914, 75000 customers streamed through their front doors. The amenities of the store included several restaurants, separate roof top lunch rooms for male and female associates, a doctor and dentist office, gymnasium and a concert hall with a built-in pipe organ.
Muji of Japan recently opened a store in a storied retail location. The store is located in the 100 year old Meier & Frank building in downtown Portland returning a “department store” to this respected storefront.
The name is derived from Mujirushi (no-brand) Ryōhin (quality goods), Muji is noted by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy.
Inventory includes men’s and women’s clothing, home furnishings, food and stationary items. Also included in the store is a coffee shop and an alteration center.
We have all been there. Walking by a playground, a college campus, a beach or schoolyard, when we hear the call’ “A little help?”
We all know how to respond. We immediately search the area for an errant ball or frisbee that needs to be returned to the person asking for help. Finding the lost item, we toss, throw flip or kick it back to the owner hopefully with some accuracy.
Often times customers are limited by the number and availability of dressing rooms. So I had to chuckle when I stopped in a Book Warehouse recently. The bookstore had FIVE dressing rooms and nothing to try on. I think a marketing opportunity for the store would be to put up fliers in dressing room lines of other stores in the mall saying “Come for our dressing rooms and stay for our books.”
One of the joys of a good road trip is getting well away from the interstates and onto the blue highways of William Least-Heat Moon fame. It is on just such roads that my wife and I found ourselves on a recent trip to Death Valley.
Klamath Grill (highly recommended for breakfast or lunch)
As we drove through southern Oregon, the clock was approaching lunchtime and we were beginning to feel a bit hungry when we heard a radio ad for the Klamath Grill on Main Street in Klamath Falls. The ad made it sound like a great local place to stop for lunch. We were not disappointed.
This breakfast and lunch spot serves up a nice variety of diner favorites along with some chef specialities such as Swedish Pancakes, Dutch Babies and a Cranberry Club Sandwich.
Waiting for my Huevos con Chorizo to arrive, I picked up a table topper to read. Anyone who has eaten at a small town diner might recognize these simple booklets with local history, bad jokes, trivia and area advertisements to read while waiting for your food.
As I was reading through the booklet, I ran across a reference to the “only solar-powered outdoor store in the US”, The Ledge. Checking my phone, I discovered the store was only several blocks from the diner. So we decided we would walk over to the store and take a look around before heading on to Tule Lake and Susanville.
The former Six Flags Mall in Arlington TX by Timcdfw from WikiCommons
A headline in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer proclaimed “The retail apocalypse has officially descended on America.” Quite a dire news story. While the news is of some concern given the shear number of store closures and the job loses they represent, it does not reflect the end or apocalypse of retail. Part of the contraction that we are seeing is the continuing trend of shoppers buying on-line: but another significant issue is the glut of retail space.
I lived most of my life in the Midwest. So when I finally caught up with some friends by moving to the PNW, they excitedly shared their love for Fred Meyer, a regional chain owned by Kroger. There are amazing places similar to SuperTarget or Walmart Supercenters. But truth be told, I really never became a regular customer.
But on our recent road trip, we stopped at a Fred Meyer for some supplies and I was reminded of one thing that I, even someone who has never had children, appreciate in the larger Fred Meyer stores, Freddy’s Playland.
Freddy’s Playland is a drop-off day care offering an hour of free care for children 2 to 5 while their parent(s) do their shopping. What a great service and something that keeps Fred Meyer customers loyal. Kudos.
I will admit that I do not buy as much music as I used to. Part of it may be my age. Part of it may be the availability of music from other sources (Amazon Prime on Echo). Part of it may be that I listen almost exclusively to NPR when I am driving near home.
But one of the main reasons is that I have lost touch with Steve. Steve was not an old friend or a work colleague. He was not a music reporter for some hip website, publication or YouTube channel. No, Steve was just an employee of a record shop I used to frequent in Seattle, Silver Platters, at their old South Center location. I didn’t really know Steve. In fact the time that I ever spoke with him was when he happened to be the cashier that rang up my purchases at the front counter.
Even though we exchanged few words, he did communicate with me and significantly influenced my musical tastes and my purchases. You see Silver Platters used to have a display located at the front of the store that featured music that the staff members were listening to. Over time, I came to realize that of all the staff members, Steve had musical tastes that paralleled mine the closest. If Steve recommended a cd (this was the early 00s), I would buy it. I was never disappointed. I miss Steve and his musical recommendations.