Vivs Ngo snapped this wonderful shot of Los Angeles's Last Bookstore, an exuberant temple of the bookseller's faith.
The Betabrand retail store in San Francisco's Mission district now sports a grotesque window display of Santa Claus, entitled Santa the Hutt. Chris from BetaBrand writes, "Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment.
Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week. "
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Avi Solomon snapped this pic of the window display at NYC bookstore The Strand lauding the virtues of their "Real books priced lower than ebooks," including the fact that you can read them during take-off and landing.
(via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)
Consumerist readers Caskey and Sara went digging through the shelves of a WalMart to see what kind of antiquated computer hardware they could find. They were not disappointed: at least one branch of the store is still selling massive, 2.5GB Seagate drives for $79 (for comparison, consider this $70, tiny 1TB hard-drive with 400X the capacity -- I've been using one as my office backup drive for a couple months and can personally attest to its reliability). There was more, too -- Consumerist has a whole series of them.
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In Japan, farmers sell their blemished, surplus and otherwise unmarketable vegetables in unstaffed, honor-system roadside stalls called "Unmanned stores" ("mujin hanbai"). Produce is set out in trays with an anchored cashbox and a note inviting passers-by to take what they please and leave payment in the box. Farmers sometimes add recipes and other serving suggestions. Here's a map of 120+ mujin hanbais, in Nerima ward -- part of greater Tokyo (a city whose sprawl encompasses a surprising amount of farmland). A fascinating, lavishly illustrated article on PingMag explores the use and practice of these stores, including the growing trend to coin-operated lockers.
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There's something nice about going into a well-maintained, well-thought-through shop -- indeed, there's a whole genre of fiction about this. But the dark side of retail is the sprawling American megamall, the original killer of the downtown and the mom-and-pop shop, which turned the public square into a private space and brought crushing sameness to the land.
So while we lament the Internet's deleterious effect on the friendly used bookstore, let's not forget to celebrate the its even harsher effect on malls:
A report from Co-Star observes that there are more than 200 malls with over 250,000 square feet that have vacancy rates of 35 percent or higher, a "clear marker for shopping center distress." These malls are becoming ghost towns. They are not viable now and will only get less so as online continues to steal retail sales from brick-and-mortar stores. Continued bankruptcies among historic mall anchors will increase the pressure on these marginal malls, as will store closures from retailers working to optimize their business. Hundreds of malls will soon need to be repurposed or demolished. Strong malls will stay strong for a while, as retailers are willing to pay for traffic and customers from failed malls seek offline alternatives, but even they stand in the path of the shift of retail spending from offline to online.
This in turn creates further opportunity for online commerce. If I were thinking of starting a new retail brand right now, I would unquestionably start it online.
[The Atlantic Cities/Jeff Jordan]
The Death of the American Shopping Mall
See also: DeadMalls.com
(Image: Pheonix Village Mall, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cwsteeds's photostream)