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PRODUCTS OF THE PAST
Don't you ever worry about the fact that all the stores with stuff are closing and all that will be left, soon, are clothing boutiques, hair salons, liquor stores, groceries, and restaurants?

Bookstores are more and more threatened by Kindles and other e-readers. Stores that sell movies are going under as Netflix and Apple TV take over. Stores that sell music have pretty much already gone the way of the dinosaur. There are still some toy stores out there, but more and more, it seems that we do the majority of our shopping and ordering online.

We stream our music and our movies. We play online games. We download our books and podcasts.

At the mall nearest me, in Lund, there are 70-some stores. One is a pharmacy, one is a hair salon, one is a florist, one is a tobacco stand. 15 sell cosmetics, shoes, jewelry or eyeglasses. 10 sell food. 7 sell home furnishings, home accessories or electronics.

There is one book store, over half of which is stationery, wrapping paper, office supplies, and greeting cards.

There is one game store, over half of which seems to be advertising posters and game-related merchandise.

There is one frame shop that also sells poster, prints, and greeting cards.

There is one toy store.

There is one store that sells bags, suitcases, backpacks and purses (practical items that you either "wear" or which hold the things you wear).

There is no longer a music/movie store; it closed a couple of years ago.

31 of the stores primarily sell clothing and other wearable articles (and sports equipment, most of which is wearable). If you count in the jewelry, shoe and eyeglass places, which are also wearables, that's over half the stores.

I haven't done the breakdown for Emporia, the big mall in Malmö, which advertises itself as Scandinavia's widest assortment of shops and services, but I'd willing to bet the percentages are similar, if not skewed even more in the direction of clothing.

I miss stuff stores. I miss places where you can go and browse and find staff recommendations and bring home something SOLID that will make you think or feel or learn. Surfing amazon.com is just not the same.

And I admit freely, I've contributed. I order online more and more. But I feel we've lost some of the sense of discovery, from actually touching and picking up and seeing the reality of the things we buy before we buy them.

I know it's more convenient in lots of ways, but it also seems like one more excuse to never bother leaving the house. One less reason to mingle with real people and possibly talk to them. One more way to isolate ourselves. Apparently, that's what we want: comfort and convenience and a life spent engaging from the safety of our homes (says the blogger). Home delivery. Easy return policies. Recommendations based on algorithms and click-through preferences.

What are we doing to ourselves? At least, most of the time, I can be comforted by the realization that books are still being published. Music is still being written. Games are still being played. Movies are still being made. It's just, hopefully, the delivery and consumption of them that is changing. But I still think we've lost something. And I think it's sad.

And I know this raises a whole 'nother discussion about stuff and materialism and clutter and all that, but still.
 nostalgic
mood: nostalgic
music: Poema—Would You


Comments

I'm the first one to miss a good bookstore with the smell of printed paper and a few cozy chairs. But societies change and I'm okay with it, mostly. I still read books from the library. I do think reading on e-readers isn't as good for us, but I also think humans will adapt to these changes over time, physically.

I envision a future where we create comfortable gathering places of other types. We're just caught at the start of huge change right now and I'm sure I won't live to see what comes from it. But I know there will be good and bad aspects, as that is the way of Life.

Edited at 2014-11-15 12:00 am (UTC)

Comfortable gathering places:
Coffee shops, senior centers, parks, libraries, etc... And our own kitchen tables.

I too am a 'hold the book in my hands and turn the pages' kind of a woman.

I agree that we are at the start of huge change right now, but I don't see creating comfortable gathering places as a reality... I see the trend going more and more online for "gathering".

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

Oh, I agree! Walking around noticing things...actually touching them! However, everything is moving so fast now. And browsing takes time. I am worried about how we all pay more attention to our screens than each other, I see it in my classes--everyone stays silent during our breaks and their noses are pointed toward their phones. (And I know, here I am sitting next to my husband typing on a blog.) But I worry. I hope we figure out a way to keep personal interaction at the forefront, even through out this massive cultural change. What a great question to ponder, Liz. This would be a good one to ask my students as well.

Re: From Megsie

The paying attention to our screens more than our family/friends/people-around-us is a very disturbing trend.

(Anonymous)
Re: From Megsie

It is very disturbing! Love, Lizardmom

Great entry Liz.

Agree completely with your post. What will we do with all the time we save not driving to the store, browsing through the merchanidise, sharing shopping experience with friends and family, connecting with the vendors/other shoppers?

Nothing. We will sit on our butts even more than we already do.

I envision the Wall-E spaceship scene, only everywhere.

My mother said the same sort of thing when supermarkets came on the scene - suddenly the corner shop, butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, bakery etc began to close as everyone shopped at the big shops where you could get all of your groceries under the one roof. Once Kmart and Target arrived a few years later, the smaller toy stores, shoe shops, draper, dress shops, general stores, record shops, small electronics stores began to close as well. She said that something died in the social fabric of the community. One knew people in those days simply from daily activities like popping into the greengrocer - it was like meeting at the village well.

I think we as consumers have changed somewhat as well. I know that recently we've been looking for a fridge. In earlier times I would have physically gone to the local shops and looked at what they had, talked to the salesperson and maybe telephoned a few shops just to compare prices. These days I can do a lot of that online - I don't need a salesperson for advice as I've done my own research as I want to get the maximum value out of every dollar I spend, and to feel secure about the purchases I'm making. That said, there is no replacement for holding, feeling, inspecting a physical product on a store shelf or showroom floor and that's where internet shopping falls down a bit.

Bookshops I've always loved! But there are no bookshops anywhere near me. Even Nyköping, with a population of 40,000 has not one bookshop. Our "bokrea" books are at ICA and Willys - so you can imagine the choice. I used to love browsing and making a discovery in such shops and also in those shops that sell gifts and knickknacks. But I'm not a natural shopper, so I don't miss those things as much as you do. I don't like shopping malls or crowds and would rather have my body covered in papercuts, then lemon juice rubbed into it than go to IKEA or Ullared.

Living in a smaller place, I like the convenience and wider choice I get from internet shopping. Not to mention that I can buy the same product from ebay in the UK (delivered to my door no less) than I can in a shop in Sweden. Some products here are at least THREE times the price. I have no intention of funding some Swede's new Mercedes, villa extension or trip to Thailand from my pocket.

"but it also seems like one more excuse to never bother leaving the house." Now THAT sounds like bliss. Where do I sign up?

No bookshops at all in Nyköping, not even an Akademibokhandel?? That's crazy.

I see that there is an Akademibokhandel. That must be new - they have recently built some kind of gallerian there and there are a lot of shops in that new development. L-G's been there and said that the shops are the size of postage stamps - Kjell and Co was so small that he set off the burglar alarm walking from the shelf to the cash register with his purchase. I don't go there as there is no parking nearby and you also have to trip over many rather pushy beggars outside of the shops on that street.

But what about in the town/city centers? It's been a few years since I was over there but we usually would go into downtown Lund and there's that big bookstore near the cathedral, that area had lots of shops with stuff.

My small town has an independent bookstore that actually expanded recently, a small toy store, an actual record store (but really records, not CDs), and a bunch of "stuff" stores. Come visit!

They're disappearing, too, though maybe not as fast in some of the city centers. The big Hamrelius bookstore in Malmö downsized significantly not too long ago. I hope the trend reverses, but I suspect it's not feasible in this day and age.

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