Wednesday, January 06, 2010

In This Months Business Monthly

My column in the latest issue of The Business Monthly is actually an expansion of this post I wrote back in October. The current debate over what a redeveloped village center in Columbia should look like seems to have stirred a longing in some for the Columbia days of yore.

Those days were special but they are also over, way over. Columbia in 1969 was a community of less than 10,000 people that was largely composed of young families. Columbia of 2010 is almost ten times larger, with a broader demographic spectrum.

Trying to go back and recreate what existed forty years ago may be nostalgic but it isn’t a good business strategy for moving forward.

You can read this month’s column here.


Bob O said...

Well put. I enjoyed your column.

What you described in 1969 in Columbia is much like what I experienced in the late 1990s and through the turn of the century in England.

Christmas in England is much different than here in the U.S. Most commerce and celebrations revolve around the...wait for it...village centers. Or town center, if you live in a bigger town. Even English (British, United Kingdom, take your pick, I only lived in England) cities are broken down into villages, of sorts.

Obviously, this has to do with differences between cultures and, specifically, driving and buying habits. Brits don't tend to drive as much or as far as Yanks do, and they tend to shop more often but for fewer items. Big Box stores do exist in England, but visiting is more in the vein of an annual outing than as a weekly or monthly occurence. And with petrol costing upwards of seven or eight dollars a gallon, driving far is not an option for many (not to mention the prohibitive annual vehicle, or "road" taxes).

In short, most Brits only shop within walking distance or a short drive from where they live. Americans, who usually own several cars, have a long commute to work, and very low fuel costs, are much more prone to jump in the car and drive to Best Buy to get a new battery for their digital camera when they need to do so. Big Box store wins, because it has what you need.

I agree, I don't think you'll see village centers the way they were...unless oil hits $200 a barrel.

And as a side note, when my English friends come to visit, one of the first places they want to go is to the mall...or to Best Buy.

Sarah said...

Well put to you to as well, Bob O.

We moved within walking distance of a village center so we could at least walk some places. Big box wins for some stuff like digital cameras-- where else can we go? But we can at least cut some of our driving out since out of all the errands we run/places we go regularly, grocery store and library (where we also live within walking distance of) is definitely up there.

Tom said...

A Brit friend of mine once explained the difference between England and the USA is simple:
In England 500 miles is a long way.
In the USA 500 years is a long time.