Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

When Pigs Flew

There was a time when pigs did fly. Each year in December, I would look forward to my mother taking me to ride “The Pink Pig” at the downtown Atlanta department store of Mr. and Mrs. Rich (Rich’s). It’s an iconic holiday memory, and one that always endeared me to the now out-of-business retailer.

As an adult, I was in Minneapolis one late November afternoon and happened upon the downtown Marshall Field’s store. Customers were being treated to champagne and piano music that evening. After enjoying a couple of glasses of champagne, I ran into the paraffin wax lady. Before I knew it, I was walking around the store with wax-dipped hands wrapped in steamy towels. I laughed, thinking I looked more like an ER patient than a shopper.

While these experiences were very different, they share a commonality. Shopping was once a form of entertainment, an experience in itself, beyond the pointing and clicking which is now part of the process. The question becomes: Will the stores adapt? By offering a hands-on experience, can they fill a gap that online stores just cannot?

Online shopping for some products is more efficient, but also at times is lonelier and less fun. Sometimes it may feel more like a chore than a pleasure. It’s less social for sure. I believe we will see the balancing act continue for both.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.