I was driving through my hometown the other day when a bit of nostalgia crept in. I remembered a downtown where families could spend a weekend afternoon window shopping the specialty shops and stop to enjoy a burger and milkshake at one of the local diners before enjoying nature's beauty in the local park.
Now, the candy store is gone. The comics store ... what's that? And the diners ... well, they've given way to national chains who located on “Hamburger Row” on the outskirts of town. As one relative pointed out, all the retail shops have moved out and the service providers have moved downstairs.
There is not much downtown for a family to do anymore. I lamented this revelation for some time before I realized that real estate doesn't matter. There's less to do now than there was when I was a kid. Sure, it's not all in a central location, but search and discovery is part of the fun. If I want to take my children to the park, it's still there. If I want to take my children to the candy store, we'll have to travel — and potentially spark an adventure that transcends the candy store itself.
The same is true of the business world. Real estate doesn't matter. Everyone complains that the small mom ‘n’ pop stores are gone, but in reality they've just relocated to an electronic environment that reduces overhead and streamlines delivery and customer services; thereby making it easier for small business to start up and compete.Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr.