Newseum: Retail of the Future

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A Vision of Retail

Silence. I open my eyes and look intently back at the screen. The suit looks perfect. I can see myself in it. My problem is, I’ve never bought this brand before. You know how it is, one company claims their size is X and another claims X and one is too small the other too big. It is times like this that I am glad we have a subscription to our local Newseum.

One quick phone call and I have an appointment for later this evening to try on the suit. 8:15pm is a bit late, but what other options do I have, take time off work? I can’t afford to miss work for shopping!

Who could have foreseen that as internet shopping and the 24/7 convenience that it offered would lead to the death of retail stores. I suppose the writing was on the wall as far back as 2014/2015, when the Anchor Malls were closing in the US, or with the long lines of retail space for rent. The strip malls and the town centres were bereft of shops. Amazon and the other large e-retailers were growing.

I suppose we all did it back then, went into town, tried the clothes on, then bought cheaper on-line. It just seemed the sensible thing to do. Now, if you don’t have a Newseum subscription or are flexible enough to use the pay-as-you-go option, then you only have the photos and descriptions on the website. Which, of course, is good enough for small value purchases, but will never work for a business suit, which has to fit correctly.

I know several people who bought expensive items, like short throw super-ultra-high-definition projectors. They thought they were saving money, buy on-line, and skip the Newseum visit and pay-as-you-go fee. The problem was, they were overhyped on-line and people wasted a lot of money on substandard items.

I remember when they first opened, nobody wanted to pay to try on clothes or to feel and see the other items. But as the shops closed and there was nothing else, we all just went along.

It was all the little things that get you:

  • What does a perfume or aftershave smell like?
  • What colour is something?
  • Will this match with my existing thing?
  • How heavy is something?
  • How does it feel and hang?

None of these things are a problem, if you’re prepared to guess or don’t care, but we all missed not being able to try before we buy.

I suppose that this new way gives us the best of both worlds, if I want to go look at something, then I can and the prices are always the cheapest.

I’ve never really thought where the products come from for the Newseum. Some items are obviously there as part of a sponsorship deal, you can always tell those, because they are on display with big brand names prominently displayed. I suppose the other items must all be bought by the Newseum themselves.

So now, instead of having lots of shops spread over what would be a shopping mall or centre, there is just a single Newseum taking up all the space, you can touch, but you can’t buy. On-line you can buy but not touch.

I do sometimes wish we could go back to the old days, where we could touch and then buy. The best of both worlds.


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