Robert Wise explores the retail world from two perspectives: From an economic viewpoint, analyzing the decline of independent retailers and asking what might slow or reverse it; from a businessman's viewpoint, asking what enables one independent to prosper when so many others fail.
What happened to the independent stores of the 1950s, that used to cluster around a town square in a busy uptown shopping district? What happened to their owners, those middle-class leaders who used to serve on city councils and shape community affairs?
They've been replaced by giant retail firms, whose chain stores and franchise stores populate the suburban malls where most customers shop. Their corporate owners live far away, untroubled by local affairs.
How did this happen? Just big fish versus little fish? Economic growth? Progress? Standing Alone traces the history of American retailing to show the incentives and constraints that shaped retailers' behavior over the years, from the antebellum world of country general stores and peddlers to today's shopping malls and two-acre superstores.
Contrasting today's business world with that of the early 20th century, Wise tells the stories of his grandfather's grocery business and of a modern franchise store in a shopping mall.
Standing Alone profiles four independent businesses that have withstood the tide of retail chains and franchises: A lumber firm operating since 1903, a drugstore in business since 1938, another drugstore operating since 1964, and an American Indian art and craft gallery in business for decades.
Distilling the lessons of this history, Wise provides a set of guidelines for aspiring retailers, and discusses alternatives when some of them can't be followed.
Standing Alone documents the value of independent retailers to their community and discusses ways the community, including the reader, can better support them.
Wise discusses how redefining corporate personhood could help level the playing field for independent retailers. Finally, he speculates on the long-term future of retailing under the pressure of resource depletion and global warming.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)|
About the Author
After teaching climatology for two years, he went into civil service, first as a cartographer trainee at the Defense Mapping Agency, then as a Meteorologist at the Air Force Environmental Tactical Applications Center. Here he developed computer programs to process weather and climate data. He moved on to other programming jobs, then moved to Florida to work as a software engineer for Harris Corporation, helping to develop a weather forecasting support system for the Air Force. After sixteen years with Harris, he moved to Northrop Grumman Corporation, where he specialized in developing maps and imagery for the Joint STARS workstation.
He retired in 2010, and now devotes his time to blogging at Eclectications.com, home maintenance and volunteer work. He enjoys bicycling, kayaking and sailing, as well as occasional cruises and tours with Kae. They stay in close touch with their two daughters and four grandchildren.