The internet is here to stay.
For those of us on this editorial board, and for millions of others who grew up without the internet, life as we knew it went on.
Quite honestly, life was a lot simpler before the internet came along, especially for kids. Instead of being glued to the computer after school, kids got together outside and played sports, rode bicycles around their neighborhoods, went with their parents downtown to get shoes or clothes or went to a burger or ice cream joint to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.
But again, it’s here to stay and there’s nothing we can do about it but embrace it. The internet does come in handy when you need to look things up, and it does help you with other things, such as getting directions through Google Maps or another app, or providing quick answers to questions that could often take longer to look up in a book or by talking to several people.
One concern we see with the internet as a disruptive agent, however, is the number of businesses it has forced to close. Since its inception, the internet has been responsible for closing many brick-and-mortar, family-owned businesses, some of which have been in families for generations. Large businesses with a national footprint have not been immune, either.
This is a sad reality.
Toys R Us, Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Payless ShoeSource and many other large corporate stores across the country have been forced to close their doors because of the internet and because people chose to simply order online at Amazon and other places instead of shopping at these big box stores. All the aforementioned stores once had operations here.
It is obviously a consumer’s prerogative to buy his or her items online and we would concur that it can be much easier to do so, but we would also argue that communities pay a price when this happens.
On the local level, we have recently seen three family-owned businesses announce that they are having to shutter their doors with the internet being a contributor.
Those local stores closing are My Friend’s Place, Jim & Gil’s Mens Clothing store and Family Video. It was very sad to hear of these stores closing, not only because they have all been around our city for quite a long time and were owned or operated by local people, but also the jobs that are lost and the impact on the tax base.
Don’t their jobs matter? Don't we want ot have businesses that contribute to local nonprofits? Wouldn’t it be nice if money spent out of state circulated in our community instead?
We wholeheartedly think so.
Sadly, in the future we will hear of more local businesses closing because of people’s desire to simply buy online.
More and more people need to really start to think about doing their part and buying locally to help these brick-and-mortar businesses survive.
We would be living in a fantasy world to believe that we are going to change everyone’s opinion about shopping online, because we know people will continue to do it. But if we could just convince more of our citizens to shop locally more often to help our local businesses stay open, we will have felt like we at least did our part to help these businesses have a fighting chance against the giant that is the internet.