Tusco Display blog
Tusco Display blog

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Stores as a Mirror

You can learn a lot about a person by seeing how they spend their money. It exposes hobbies, interests, passions, and preferences. Do you eat out often? Cook at home? Travel a lot? Hunt for bargains? Do crafts? What charities do you support? Show me what you spend your money on and I’ll show you who you are.

Retail landscapes do the same thing for a community. Think of touristy places like Berlin, OH or artsy neighborhoods like SoHo in Manhattan, NY. Even one-of-a-kind stores like Hartville (OH) Hardware or Keim Lumber in Charm, OH say something significant about the communities of sellers and buyers. You won’t find a Whole Foods in blue-collar Newcomerstown, OH but you will in tony Alexandria, VA.

Chain stores, especially in the US, ebb and flow depending on the preferences of shoppers. A common theme for shoppers of every economic stratum is a desire to get a good deal. The Walton family made a fortune by bringing discounted prices on everyday items to smaller towns. Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar have out-walmarted Walmart by dropping tiny, inexpensive-to-operate stores into all kinds of neighborhoods, offering limited selection, low prices, and extreme convenience.

Particularly in times of recession, we see people wanting to feel like they’re saving a buck. That’s why Dollar General is adding 979 stores this year and Dollar Tree/Family Dollar 474 more. Low-cost grocery chain Aldi’s is adding 175 new stores and expanding hundreds more. These types of stores are found all over but it’s the unique combination of these chains with local boutiques, mom’n’pop operators, restaurants, bars, and other retailers that create the tenor of a place.

Recessions come and go but shoppers are the true determiners of what stores dive, survive or thrive. And where they do so says a lot about us.