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The Slow Death of Retail

Delivered

Henry’s sent me a letter, not an email mind you but a personally addressed envelope. Inside the envelope was a gift certificate for $25 off my next order with Henry’s. And they thanked me for being such a loyal customer but I would have to shop differently from now on.

I would have to buy online.

Why?

Because they were closing the local store where I live.

I am a camera enthusiast. I have purchased a lot of gear from Henry’s over the years. Although I generally know what I want to buy, it has been helpful for me to connect with the shop, physically handle and try out the gear, ask questions and generally enjoy a bit of an experience with buying new photography equipment. The employees were great and when it came time for trading up, they handled that part of the process in a painless fashion.

The website experience? Not great. And since I can buy camera equipment from any one of a number of online sellers, the site with the lowest price and the best reputation for fulfillment will prevail. There really isn’t much of a customer experience with online retailers of camera equipment. It has become, for the most part, an order and ship business.

I could tell that Henry’s was about to close. They had very little stock in the shop and they did not have much in the way of customers dropping by anymore.

My sense is that the local Best Buy is next. Last time I was in the store, there was very little in the way of stock and very little in the way of customers.

My experiences with buying online are so-so. The last item I ordered online took almost two weeks from the time I placed the order until it finally arrived at the house earlier today. And that was after having paid for expedited shipping. I called the online retailer and they did credit me the cost for expedited shipment.

I understand the business model that online retailers are exploiting: lower cost of operations, lower price for customers, with some degree of convenience.

All that said, I will miss not having a Henry’s nearby.