|THE DYING ART RETAIL MODEL
Have you heard?
After Americans spent an estimated $196 billion during the Christmas 2016 season, there’s still bad news for retailers.
Macy’s and Sears are closing hundreds of stores and laying off thousands of workers. This comes despite the fact that holiday sales were up by about four percent.
THIS JUST IN ...
I've just heard that Billionaire Warren Buffet has ditched 90% of his Walmart shares to the tune of $900 million. It's believed that this is because Amazon.com has been eating into Walmart's brick and mortar model BIG time and Walmart isn't competing well with Amazon online.
So, here's the deal...
Online sales rose by 17% in 2016. People are shopping online like never before. Of course, many folks are returning online purchases, but the online action continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Why?
Well … why go through all of the hassle of schlepping to the store, dealing with the crowds and facing some snooty salesperson when you can simply shop online? Hold that thought …
REWIND FOUR DAYS
I was just chatting with yet another artist who’s desperate to get into a gallery. Not an online gallery, but a brick and mortar gallery. Sometimes when I chat with artists seeking gallery representation, it’s almost as if I have to talk them down from a ledge.
Guys … let me say this yet again … the American economy is changing. The WORLD is changing. Our economy here in America - and even in Europe – is now more technology-based.
What we’re experiencing is almost akin to the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing began taking over during the mid to late 19th Century. We are now living during the “Technological Revolution.” When people look back 100 years from now – assuming we haven’t blown up the planet – they’re going to see that our current time is the “Age of Tech.”
And yet, somehow, we insist on hanging on to the familiar and comfortable past. Even though it may not have been so comfortable, it was familiar, at least.
Somehow, we think that all of those manufacturing jobs that went overseas are coming back. Some may return, but the vast majority won’t. Whether we like it or not, time continues to march forward and it often takes things we’d rather keep, but cannot. The “globalization” train left the station a long time ago and NOW we’re trying to catch up?
We’ve got to put on our big boy and big girl pants and realize that change happens. We cannot go back. We CAN be great again, but NOT in the same way. How about we start with educating our nation for this new tech economy?
FAST FORWARD FOUR DAYS
If you’re an art dealer, art gallery or artist and you think the Macy’s and Sears downsizing has nothing to do with YOU …
If people aren’t visiting brick and mortar Macy’s or Sears stores like they once did, what on earth makes you think they’re going to schlep into your art gallery? Seriously?
Have you forgotten that contemporary art is retail? Yes, contemporary art is charming, edgy and profound, but make no mistake, if you’re a starving or striving artist or art gallery, you know full well that art is also VERY retail.
I mean, just think about how many times you yourself have shopped online during the past few years. Hasn’t your online activity exploded? We’re not only living in the real world, we’re living in the virtual world. Far too many people in the contemporary art world are dragging their heels on this realization … to their doom.
Galleries are continuing to close left and right. Artists are continuing to try to get into these galleries that are struggling with rising rents – among other issues - and trying to keep the artists they already have. There are only so many galleries with so much display space and other resources to accommodate these artists.
Again … if you are an artist or gallery, you need a strong online presence in the form of your very own retail art website. And don’t just treat it as a vanity space. You need to get real and make it an actual commerce site.
YOUR VERY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. This is no joke.
I love artists and I love galleries, but the fact remains that we’re experiencing a technological shift that’s resulting in a change in how we do things … especially when it comes to shopping and spending habits.
Also, I love nothing more than visiting brick and mortar art galleries, but you have to remember that I’m a rabid art freak. There aren’t enough of us out there to give artists and galleries the true support they need.
Why would anyone who’s afraid of galleries saunter into a gallery when they can simply look at art online? That’s assuming they even want to look at art in the first place.
We’re living in tough times. We’re living in a new day. The art world retail model as we know it is shifting … and maybe even dying.
Haven’t you noticed? Everything is moving faster and faster. Technology has taken over.
Look … let’s hope like hell that brick and mortar galleries can figure it out and survive. We need galleries on Main Street and every other street all over the world. Yet reality is inescapable.
The customers are ONLINE. Where are you?