This past weekend, Steve Lackmeyer introduced the “leakage” theory of retail as an explanation of why we weren’t getting any of the “cool” stores here in the 405. An example, from August Partners consultant David Lobaugh:
Lobaugh’s surveys show that only 52 percent of residents’ apparel purchases are within Oklahoma City. Recipients of that leakage, he said, range from Edmond, Moore and Norman, to Tulsa and Dallas.
“You’re spending a lot of money in other places,” Lobaugh said. “Shame on you. Don’t do that anymore.”
[L]ast month my wife and I went to the Whole Foods in Tulsa, but only because we couldn’t find products she was looking for here in Oklahoma City.
And I suppose I should admit to being a shareholder in Leakville: I buy my shoes from the New Balance store in Edmond, and a lot of stuff from catalogs.
But there’s a semi-vicious circle shaping up here, as noted by Shane down in Norman:
Chain of events: OKC isn’t shopping locally because it can’t get what it wants in OKC. So, in order to get the chain retailers we want, we have to start spending more locally meaning we need to have local retailers to fill the niche of Urban Outfitters or Whole Foods. Once those local retailers are in place, and we are shopping locally more, the chain stores we wanted finally come in and destroy the local businesses we have built up? So the chains want to have mom and pop stores to destroy if they are going to come into OKC? That’s what the retail experts are saying?
This is what marketing people in every realm say: you want something totally different, yet exactly the same. As Fillyjonk said here:
It seems to me that Madison Avenue, Hollywood, programming execs, publishers, are all looking for something that is “distinctive, but is just the same as all that other stuff that’s popular right now.”
So here’s the deal. Both sides of the retail equation are highly risk-adverse: the sellers don’t want to lose their shirts, and the buyers don’t want to buy the same damn shirts they have already. Is anyone surprised that retail sales are not exactly soaring these days?