That’s pretty much how the game is played when it comes to old school businesses ranging from brick-and-mortar retailers to newspapers and magazines. They just can’t make money anymore because of competition from the worldwide web, they say.
“If you are a computer, chances are good that everyone kind of hates your guts right now,” writes blogger Jeff Vrabel.
Hey, these are changing times, but for up-and-coming companies willing to take advantage of information technology, the sky’s the limit. But just like the horse and buggy repair shops that got their butts handed to them by the auto industry, if you can’t keep up with the times, you ain’t gonna make it.
Simple as that.
The $64 million question:
Do up and coming Internet retailers owe local communities and the beleaguered businesses that operate within them anything? You know, like revenue sharing in professional sports.
Which brings us to an editorial in today’s Lawrence Journal World under the headline, “Tax Fairness,” that says they do.
“Local retailers – the lifeblood of local communities – may be on their way to getting a deserved break from the federal government…” it begins. “Many online sales are tax-free, to the dismay of competing merchants who maintain physical stores, and have all the expenses that go with them..it’s a matter of fairness.”
The Journal World’s bottom line?
“Congress needs to get this monkey off the backs of struggling local retailers and do away with an unnecessary advantage that fosters e-commerce to the detriment of businesses that invest in local communities across the nation.”
Since when did it become government’s responsibility to protect and subsidize outmoded businesses at the expense of newer, developing industries that are essentially the wave of the future?
For decades there have been businesses that advertise nationally – more often than not in magazines – that offered substantial discounts to prices local retailers have charged. Their economies of scale afforded them advantages that shrewd shoppers were keen to take advantage of.
It’s just more widespread now with the Internet.
The Internet didn’t wipe them off the face of the earth, competition did. Nobody protected them, they had to fend for themselves.
Competition from the Internet is remaking the way people shop for and buy stuff. Penalizing online businesses to try and help prop up fading retailers like Macy’s, K-Mart, J.C. Penney and others won’t hold back the hands of time.
There are plenty of ways for communities to derive tax revenue and for crafty retailers and businesses to market to consumers in the Age of Information. They just have to be smart about it, but what’s new about that?
Whining editorials like the Journal World‘s accomplish little beyond kissing up to local retailer advertisers in the hopes that the newspaper can continue to pull in enough local ad revenues to survive.
However there will always be smart, capable local retailers who don’t need newspapers to make it. Those days have passed.
Because not only are the times a changing, they’ve already changed.