Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I often wonder what people are thinking when they open a new retail business. Small, independent retail stores have a difficult enough time when the economy is strong, but in a weak or recessionary economy, it can be almost foolhardy to attempt to make a go of it.

I pulled into the side parking lot. It was a hot afternoon and all I wanted to do was quickly make my way into the Walmart that occupied this end of the sprawling, enclosed mall. I had just worked a morning shift after working a late shift the night before, and I was tired. I just wanted to get a couple of things to make a quick and easy meal with; some canned chicken, a loaf of potato bread, a bag of generic potato chips, and some MGD 64 light beer. As I walked across the hot asphalt I noticed a new sign on the corner location right across from Walmart (a prime location with a lot of foot traffic), a sign in dark blue lettering that read simply "Gift". As I passed through the crowd (most of whom were making a beeline for the world's largest retailer) I got a closer look at this new store, a gift shop selling mostly Buddha statues and other apparently Chinese items, including tee shirts with dragons on them and various trinkets and bric-a-brac. Inside was a small Asian man behind a long counter. He looked forlorn, but occasionally hopeful as people passed on their way into and out of the mall. But no one entered the little gift shop, and I wondered what the man inside was thinking (he was, I guessed, the owner of the new establishment).

Had he sunk his fortune into this venture? How much was the rent on this place, and how could he ever sell enough of the junk on his shelves to make a profit? The previous occupant had been a pizza place, and if you can't make money selling pizza across from Walmart in a busy mall, how can can you make money selling something with much less appeal than pseudo Italian pie?

I entered Walmart thinking about this for a few more moments, then wandered over to the book and magazine section just past the entrance and treated myself to the gift of a new paperback book, a science fiction novel, before moving on to the food aisles. Perhaps in an alternate universe that new gift shop could make it, but I doubt it will in this one.


  1. I love your writing. I drink MGD64, aspire to start my own business soon, and shop at Wal-Mart when I feel poor. Thanks for the link.

  2. I started drinking 64 just recently, attracted by the low calories. With the low alcohol content it does seem less like a real beer than it should, but you can't have everything, and it's near impossible for me to overindulge when MGD 64 is in the fridge.

    Since I feel poor pretty much all the time now, Walmart is usually the first place I go if I need something.

    I too would love to have my own business and throw off the yoke of wage slavery. The more people self-employed, the better. People who are in control of their own destiny are more difficult to control, and that's good for liberty.

    Thanks for the review of MGD 64.


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