I wrote something this morning on Facebook in response to a Seattle Times article on Seeing a retail future beyond Amazon Go:
I can relate to so much in this article. I run a comic shop as a side business and love small retail. Zanadu Comics was a real inspiration to me when I was in Seattle on work trips before opening the comics shop in Mix It Up. Zanadu is now closed after 42 years. The struggle for small retail shops is real.
I’m also a software dev and working in a tech industry that is always shifting opportunity. So much is possible today that wasn’t possible 42 years ago. I appreciate what Amazon is doing, even as it disrupts small business.
All that to say, let’s enjoy this wonderful high-tech life we all lead now, but don’t forget to stop in a small shop you love today, say hello, and buy a little something while you’re in there.
Writing that got me thinking about how we're quick to blame technology for its disruptive force and never lay any of the blame on ourselves as humans for letting it happen. I'm currently reading Tim O'Reilly's excellent new book WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us. The emphasis in his book there being on "it's up to us."
It's easy to blame technology for the problems that occur in periods of great economic transition. But both the problems and the solutions are the result of human choices.
Sometimes it's hard to see the choice that we have. Money is tighter these days, so buying something online for a few dollars less than you can get it at a local shop seems smart. Time is hard to come by as well. We're all busier, so having something cheaper shipped to your door is a net win. But these are choices. We're choosing cost and convenience over other things, and often, we're not conscious of what those other things are.
So just make sure that you're happy with the trade off. Make sure the things you're giving up in favor of cost and convenience are really worth it. You might find yourself looking up one day and thinking, "Oh dang, my favorite comic shop closed. I should have shopped there more." But at that point, unfortunately, it's a little too late.