Back in April, I presciently predicted that due to online commerce the streets of our cities would soon be ghost towns–that the only businesses left standing as the sagebrush blows through would be those that do what your computer can’t, like give you a haircut. (Let’s add the word “yet” to that “can’t,” since, as my friend Ellis Weiner responded, it’s only a matter of time.)
Now an article in Slate by business writer Daniel Gross makes the same suggestion, and adds the current state of the economy to the mix for good measure. Stores are disappearing by the acreful. Apparently not shopping has become a trend. There’s even a whole book about it.
Last week’s Crain’s Chicago Business had an article saying florist shops are withering because people are ordering their flowers online. Health food stores are closing because people are getting their vitamins on the internet. Thanks partly to online competition, Borders bookstores in markets nationwide are looking for subtenants to take over their leases. We are approaching the day when there will be not a single store of any kind left in America.
I started to think about what our cities will look like when this happens, when our streets become miles of vacant, shuttered storefronts, and I realized there is one business that is internet-proof: hair styling. It is not possible to get your hair cut on your computer.
There are probably one or two other kinds of shops that will be around in our future. If you can think of one, submit a comment, and I’ll send a randomly-chosen winner some flowers. Over the internet.