This column is not based on research or data.
It is based on personal observations from our office at the Chamber.
The news of Macy’s closing has been tough. It is a psychological blow to many people in our community who saw it as their only place where they could go in Owensboro to buy clothing or homewares.
It is tough because of the jobs lost by mostly women, many of whom have worked there through most of their careers. Macy’s is a globally recognized brand. They have the Thanksgiving Day Parade that is a part of American culture. It was our last “department store” where we could find just about anything we wanted from makeup to handbags to men’s shoes to small appliances.
Pier One announcing its closing a few days after Macy’s announcement was another punch for the same reasons.
Even though these closings were part of corporate-wide downsizings, it is easy to allow this news to make us feel negatively about our community. But this is an not Owensboro trend.
The national trends are real. Big retail chains are closing operations as sales shift more and more to online shopping. This is happening in small town America here in the heartland but also in big cities and on the coasts.
So, what do we do?
We have a small business community here that is quite unlike any other. Over the past 10 years, as our national retail chains have left, our local retail presence has grown exponentially. Entrepreneurs who see a niche not being filled are stepping up and creating their own locally owned businesses.
Our Shop Owensboro had 70 participating merchants this year. Over half of those have been opened since the national retail scene started receding.
While realistically this department store concept won’t be recreated, we may have to get a little innovative to create our own department store concept with many different small businesses.
Our hearts go out to the employees who have given us such great service for decades.
Let’s not count Owensboro out. Our business community has bucked trends for generations.