I found last week’s news that Big Lots is closing its DeKalb store surprisingly disheartening.
I say surprisingly because, admittedly, I’ve never been a frequent shopper at the discount store. I have shopped there, but when planning shopping trips, it was rarely at the top of my mind.
Still, I’m always sorry to see a business close, leaving behind the customers who did make a habit out of shopping there and leaving its employees out of work.
And, of course, leaving one more empty storefront to fill.
The news that Big Lots will close at the end of January seemed particularly disheartening coming on the heels of Barnes and Noble’s decision to close at the end of December and beloved independent retailer Moxie’s announcement it will close in the spring.
Shopping just keeps on getting harder.
It’s hard to say with a straight face that this spate of bad news is an indicator of the local economy in general. Moxie is a popular and successful destination store that brings in shoppers from all over the area; owner Megan Morrison has said she is closing up shop because she personally wants to move on and do different things.
Big Lots and Barnes and Noble are national retailers that chose not to renew expiring leases; neither has commented publicly on what led to the decision, but the shifting marketplace and struggles of brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online sales are familiar, particularly in the bookselling industry.
So a little perspective keeps things from looking too bad; still, it’s tough to swallow when such news piles up in a brief period of time. And regardless of the cause, it does leave three fairly large retail spaces vacant in our county’s largest city, one downtown and two on Sycamore Road. Hopefully, the spaces will fill quickly; it would be nice to see independent local businesses or at least smaller chains less susceptible to forces outside the local market move in.
Meanwhile, I received news today from the Genoa SOARing Project that 52 Genoa businesses responded to a recent business survey and said they are optimistic about the future. More than half the respondents said their business is profitable, and more than three-quarters expect to do as well or better over the next three years. I would like to know how DeKalb’s many businesses that are not closing are faring; whether they, like their northern neighbors, are optimistic about the future.
We the shopping public can’t do much to influence corporate decisions, short of making our local stores as profitable as possible. Remember to shop local, and enjoy your MidWeek.