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Congratulations on surviving the retail blitz of 2019. Any cash you have left today is being sought by the growing number of open palms taking part in Giving Tuesday.
You’ve weathered Black Friday which began on Thanksgiving for many – or in October for others. And then there was the Small Business Saturday push where you were asked to shop with your neighbors and not the big box folks. Up next was Cyber Monday although it looks like billions were spent online, not in line, on Black Friday.
There was something else in there, too. Oh yes. The first Sunday of Advent. Ask your preacher about it; he or she probably were the only ones talking about the reason for the season.
So you’ve conquered the door busters, sipped the complimentary Mimosas, grabbed a deal on Broad Street and spent too much time at work on Monday assigning your future pay checks to online purchases now arriving from Amazon and dozens of others.
So here’s a thought while you catch your breath: There’s a very good chance that Black Friday and Small Business Saturday will look very different by this time next year.
The players to be named later at East Bend – rising quickly on the remnants of Kmart (you know, the place where you had the Christmas lay aways for years). East Bend promises 20 to 28 new retailers and restaurants by October 2020. So far, the only public confirmations are restaurants but even they sell gift cards so there’s a start already on Black Friday 2020.
We’re not going to see a lot of the retailers that already draw your dollars out of Floyd County. We don’t think Target is a player; Kohls and Old Navy might be. Academy Sports as well. Probably a midsized retailer or three as well such as Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Whatever the lineup, the stores will command part of your Christmas 2020 shopping, whether it be on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or the time you kill on your lunch break. The average trip to Panda Express takes under 20 minutes so there’s plenty of time for a store or two to visit while at East Bend.
And while we don’t see these new stores keeping even a tenth of the $100 million that flows up and down I-75 coming from Rome each year, they will change our buying habits. Will that mean Broad Street takes a hit? Or the stores at Mount Berry Mall? We’ll know in 12 months.
We realize our shopping habits have been changing – and we don’t mean online. That monster is already a major player and that will only increase. No, by change we mean going back to as late as five years ago when Sears and Kmart were still open. And then a few more years back when we had Circuit City and World Hi-Fi. All gone now.
And more change could be on the way. On Tuesday’s Hometown Headlines, we have an update on leasing options available at Toys R Us. The folks who own the mall are advertising the outparcel for lease as well these days.
Those mall owners – Hull Property Group – have proposed major changes at Mount Berry for more than two years. The City Commission even put some extra candy in their stockings called a TAD.
So what has happened to all that in the past 24 months? To quote the late Ted Knight from Caddyshack, “Well, we’re waiting!”
The bigger question here is can Rome support two large retail centers, a potentially revitalized mall and East Bend? We’re keeping two Walmarts buzzing as well as Sam’s so maybe so.
For now, our Christmas shopping habits are set with changes coming by late fall 2020.
Until then, we’ll have to wait and see, and perhaps entertain ourselves with the bounty of gifts from this year.
One of our goals this holiday season it to somehow get those gifts – likely Amazon’s Alexa, a new iPhone’s Siri and a just-unpacked desktop computer’s Cortana into some sort of debate involving all this artificial intelligence. It certainly would make more sense than some of the Sunday morning political shows.