81 people are out of jobs.
This is really quite sad. According to the DP article, the corporate spokeswoman for Lowe’s said “We just did not see a scenario that leads to profitability for either of the stores [including another closed in San Bernardino.]”
I am not second guessing the soundness of that business decision. I shopped at that Lowe’s several times and it was a ghost town. I can imagine it was the best move for Lowe’s to shut it down. It would have been fiscally irresponsible to keep it open.
But is it the best move for the High Desert? What happens to those 81 people? What happens to that giant building?
As I’ve said before, I am not a militant anti-mega-retailer person. I include some of those stores in my mix of shopping destinations. However, this is precisely what scares me about putting so many eggs in one basket, especially when someone so far away holds the basket. That absentee owner’s tolerance for profit, risk, volume, whatever, may have very little to do with our community’s needs. And when they decide to turn the basket over, its our eggs that fall out.
The only upside is that perhaps the smaller garden supply and hardware stores in the area will get some additional business.
If there were, say, 500 people that shopped at that Lowe’s regularly, and those 500 people now started going to the 10 independent hardware stores and garden supply/nurseries around them, it would have an astronomical impact on those businesses. An influx of 50 regular customers would be a game changer for an independent business. Instead of worrying about closing, those businesses would be thriving. They might even be able to hire more workers. The owners live in the area. Their kids go to the same schools. They use the same local services. They have a vested interest in the growth of the High Desert. Personally, I think that the local businesses who provide similar services as Lowe’s did within the same geographic region should band together and use this opportunity to market the hell out of themselves. Lowe’s is gone? No problem! These businesses are here to serve your needs.
Whether local indies take advantage of this opportunity or not, I encourage us all to think about the benefits of spreading our money around and including more locally-owned and independent businesses in our shopping diet. It will help build a healthier High Desert economy for everyone.