By Stanley Bing
May 22, 2008

Beth from Chevy Chase, MD, lobbed in an eloquent comment to a prior posting in this spaceconcerning the death of one of my favorite childhood establishments in Chicago. Every now and then I like to wrest some of your thoughts from the blogroll of time and give them a little air and sunshine, particularly on a rainy and recessed day here in New York.

Beth’s remarks are all the more germane as we consider the confluence of trends on which we’re now surfing. One the one hand, the price of fuel is soon going to limit our ability to travel, ship goods and hence create the kind of national branding that has always been a way of life for us. On the other hand, local businesses are dying faster than you can say Odd Lots.

Anyway, here’s Beth on the subject.

It was with deep sadness that I learned of the demise of Marshall Fields. I lost my dearly beloved Woodward & Lothrop in the middle of the 1990’s and spent years finding alternative places to make my purchases.

Competition is good for the soul and good for the economy. Our traditional places of commerce held a special and important place in the culture of our cities and suburbs. Too bad, newcomers did not feel loyal to the local establishments. Too bad that these folks did not understand the value of these local establishments.

No one needs to have all cities and suburbs alike with a common denominator that is always the lowest.

The lack of commerce for local establishments has vast repercussions.

Competition helps keep prices lower, helps keep the marketplace fresh. The traditional establishments provided many jobs and benefits to their employees. There was a loyalty contract, often unspoken, between employer and employee.

As the United States continues on its quest to be a mobile society, mobile persons should learn the culture of their new environment. It is mandatory for our economic future to maintain and sustain local businesses.

Establishing business outside the community supports an economy housed outside the community. The external business does not feel any urge to provide assistance to employees or to the local community at large. These big, out of state organizations, favor efforts that fit their national goals, rarely providing support for communities where they do business.

How sad it is that the modern economy fails to teach loyalty to local businesses. How dreadfully sad it is. I long for competition I long for consumer choices. I long to support local businesses. Alas, I long for something that is no longer an option.

Consumers need their Marshall Fields, their Woodward & Lothorp, and, their Julius Garfinckles & Co. There is no better shopping than these, now defunct, shopping havens. It is tragic that this fine institution has fallen away. Marshall Fields offered a brand name in shopping that cannot be recreated by the big box shops. Personal attention to customer needs and wants separated the department stores from the rest of the bunch.


Thank YOU, Beth. I note that you posted this melancholy screed at about 2:53 AM this morning. Sounds like you keep my kind of deplorable hours, online habits and prevailing mood at that hour.

Now I’m going to go downstairs to the corner store. I like the muffins and coffee there, both of which seem home made. There’s a Pret-A-Manger moving in across the street and I’d like to make a little statement when I buy my breakfast, as long as I have the opportunity to do so.


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