Five Myths About Rural Retail in the Age of Amazon

Friday, August 10, 2018

When I was a kid in the 1970's in rural northwest Ohio, once every 8 or 10 weeks my parents would pile me into the car after church on Sunday and we would make the hour drive to "Toledo" for a day of shopping. There were some preliminary stops at the Army-Navy Surplus store and for lunch at Wendy's (quite a novelty in those days) or Ponderosa, but the highlight of the trip was Kmart.

The Kmart of my youth was adjacent to St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, a working-class Toledo suburb. That was the era of "festival" retail, the idea that if you could get customers to stay in your store for an extended period of time, they would buy more. To that end, the Oregon Kmart had a sit-down cafeteria in the back of the store AND a smaller snack bar near the front; and, of course, the famous "flashing blue light."

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