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“How do they survive?”

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If you’re like me, I always look at those small run-down retailers that seem to just be surviving, and wonder, how do these guys survive? There are thousands of those little stores that don’t seem to have any foot traffic going in and out. Down the street from me is a small shopping center with the usual suspects – a gift store, a post office, an Indian grocery store, a video store and a bagel shop. Apart from the post office and the Indian grocery store there are never any people in these stores, but year after year they are still there.

Clearly these stores have rent to pay, inventory to hold, salaries to pay but yet I never see any customers going in to these stores. How do they survive? I can understand that the Indian grocery store survives. It’s a focused niche store with a captive audience in the form of a large Indian population in the neighboring town. Focus seems to always be the correct answer to strategy. By contrast the gift store sells everything from cards to toys to bumper stickers. It’s crammed with crap from floor to ceiling. I’ve been in there a few time to look for things like envelopes and wrapping paper but i always leave feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied.

I think these companies that are bordering on survival are doomed to a certain death. Survival cannot be enough to want to go to work each day. These people don’t own a business, they own a job. Their stores will slowly fade away or bore them to death. Only to be replaced by another business satisfied just to be a survivor.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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