Poplin: Retail’s not dead yet

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The author is proud to be a member of that disheveled, somewhat foolhardy group of folks who changed course mid-career to pursue the dream of owning their own business. He wants to hear your locally-owned success stories: Comment here, email theannmag [at] gmail [dot] com, visit facebook.com/theannmag or call 734-369-4239.

January Cover, Mother and sons shopping at Downtown Home & Garden photo by Benjamin Weatherston

I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t think the “shop local” movement is fabulous. We all want to support our neighbors’ stores instead of national chains, because we know that money spent in our community stays here.

But shopping locally is easier said than done for those of us on a budget. Chain stores enjoy economies of scale that enable them to sell at prices (usually) below those charged by mom ’n’ pop shops. That’s why, despite the universal love given to “shop local,” chain stores proliferate.

That’s not to say, however, that mom ’n’ pops are dead in the water. It just means they have to do what they do very well. As Mark Hodesh has done for years at Downtown Home & Garden.

Hodesh doesn’t have a business plan (as Chris Hippler points out in his profile of Hodesh), but if he did, it would be filled with what a tactful banker might call “challenges”: limited parking downtown; numerous big box stores selling similar merchandise just down the road; inability to share overhead; etc.

Hodesh has overcome all that. He says he’s done it with hard work, and anyone who ever followed him around for a few hours can tell you that he does, indeed, work hard. But it’s more than that. It’s an indescribable deft touch with what he sells and how he sells it.

We admire Hodesh for what he’s accomplished. But he’s not the only retailer in town who comes up with good ideas and executes them in unique ways. We’ll bet you know someone who fits the bill. Tell us about them – the easiest way is to send an email to theannmag@gmail.com – and we’ll share their story next month.

Kyle Poplin

Kyle Poplin is co-founder and editor of The Ann magazine.