Friday, January 24, 2014

Bracing for empty buildings in Bend

Bend barely needs one Walgreens, let alone two
When Walgreens, the discount drug store chain, opens not one, but two stores in Bend by this summer, we should see a shakedown of Rite Aid.

Rite Aid currently has one over-large store on Bend's north end and a smaller, midtown building.

The Rite Aid on the north end recently upgraded its appearance to conform with the new corporate look.

The midtown Rite Aid, however, looks as dull as ever with a generic '70s look.

Safe to say that the smaller Rite Aid will close when the Walgreens come on line. The north store could shutter too. (I wonder if Walgreens plans on getting into the medical marijuana field in anticipation of legalization in Oregon someday. Afterall, Walgreens made its mark selling prescription alcohol during Prohibition.)

It's hard to say what could go in Rite Aid's place in the midtown shopping center, which includes a Grocery Outlet and a sad flea market. It's a down-market kind of location that would normally attract a Big Lots or a Pic-N-Save.

But, Big Lots is already ensconced between Old Navy and Safeway in the Forum shopping center on Bend's east side.

It would be good for a Ross Dress for Less except that Ross apparently is still opening a second location next to Joanne's fabric store on Bend's south end.

Speaking of the neglected south side of Bend, Albertsons will likely close its doors since the corporate honchos said they intended to downsize this year.

The newly expanded Walmart with a grocery store across the street from Albertsons should force the closure of Albertsons.

Again, it's hard to say what could go in there. Perhaps, WinCo Foods, which had plans to build in the area, could take over the Albertsons building. But, WinCo and Walmart attract the same kind of budget-conscious shoppers and Walmart will win that battle.

So, we could have a vacant building for quite some time. Or, wouldn't it be nice if Trader Joe's would put a second location there. Wishful thinking, of course.

Regarding grocery stores, the recently closed Ray's Food Place on the west side should stay vacant for quite some time. That shopping center's only success story is McDonald's, such as it is.

Meanwhile, there is no movement yet to take over the space of Sears in the Bend River Promenade. That's a high-profile spot on Bend's northern end with Parkway visibility.

But, there is already a Kohl's and Macy's in the same mall. Maybe Standard appliances could move from its wretched location, with terrible access, on the northern outskirts of Bend. Or, likely not.

In the Cascade Village Shopping Center, about a mile from the Bend River Promenade, J.C. Penney looks like it could close its doors since that corporation doesn't really know what it's doing.

That would leave a huge building available for whatever retailer chooses to expand there. It has great access via Highways 20 and 97.

But, American retail corporations really have no clue these days in the internet age.

They bring in MBA ideas when all that's needed is a little common sense.

Shoppers like deals, or the perception that they're getting a deal.

Markdowns and coupons will always work in the retail world in spite of what some former executive at Apple believes.

But, the easy access to better deals on the internet are wreaking havoc on the "brick-and-mortar" stores.

However, a good chunk of retail spending can be attributed to impulse buying. You see something and you buy it, within reason, of course.

The problem with many corporate stores is that they mark up the prices on their goods so high that the shopper pauses to think, "hmm, maybe I should check on the internet for a better deal."

Once a retailer plants that seed of doubt in a shopper's mind, the sale is lost.

The answer is that brick-and-mortar stores, even those with their own websites, have to be more aware of what's available elsewhere on the internet and at what price. But, they're not and that's why they're failing.

It's not complicated.

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