This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.


’Twas less than three weeks until Christmas
And I wandered the mall.
And saw nobody there.
Almost nobody at all.


Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

The other day I went with Mrs. Content Guy to the Stamford Town Center, the mall closest to our house in Connecticut. I have to be honest - I had some trepidations about going on an evening so close to Christmas, because I hate dealing with crowds.

No reason to worry. The joint was pretty empty. Even the Apple Store was quiet, and that spells disaster.

As I walked around, I noticed that there were a bunch of empty stores. There also were a lot of stores that looked more like pop-up shops, which meant they were designed to fill in spaces that otherwise would’ve been empty.

Interestingly enough, there also were a number of stores that had the gates pulled down, with signs saying, “Back in 10 minutes.” Which tells me that these stores didn’t have enough help to stay open while one staffer went to the bathroom or to get some dinner. That may be because these stores can’t find help, or because they don’t want to invest in help. Either way, not good for the shopper.

Listen, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but to me the Stamford Town Center is just a metaphor for the problems that may be facing lots of bricks-and-mortar retailers and malls. If you don’t create a differentiated offering that compels people to get off their rear ends, into their cars and into the store - an offering that is both relevant and resonant - then, to be honest, you’re screwed. You have no shot. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

The Stamford Town Center has nothing going on, and the days ahead look anything but merry and bright.

The Grinch could steal this place, and nobody would notice.

That’s what is on my mind this morning, and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.