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K-Mart, Sears, and JC Penney

What do these three former titans of retail have in common?  They are awful, by almost any measurement.  JCPenney, in its heyday, had over 2000 stores. Now it limps along with about 1000.  It does not occupy a clear space in the retail food chain.  And it hemorrhages money.

Kmart used to be THE mass-market discount store.  I’m not sure if it even exist anymore.  The last time I went to a Kmart, which was a while ago, it looked just like the store as I remember it when I was a kid in the 1980s.  Flickering fluorescent lights, cheap, ugly, utilitarian tile on the floor.  Boring and cold looking shelving.  Cheap looking everything.  A dismal experience.

Sears used to own and occupy the tallest building in the world.  Now they are a “has been”, nowhere near the retail leaders of Walmart, Target, Home Depot, or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Each of these stores had every opportunity to win in the marketplace. Obviously, they also have the opportunity to lose.  The painful stories of these businesses remind me of many lessons that apply to my business.

  • No business is entitled to exist.
  • If you serve the market well, you have a chance to stay in business.
  • If you do not serve the market well, your days are numbered.
  • If the only thing you can offer is a low price, plan to close your doors eventually.  Someone else will eventually find a way to beat your price.
  • Know your customer. You cannot be all things to all people.
  • Do not fear the 800 pound gorilla in your industry.
  • You are only in business if your customers want you to be in business.

I know that every single day we have to go out and earn your dry cleaning business. You have plenty of other options in Johnson County.  My objective is to serve you at the highest level possible, which is right at your front door.  You might be able to find a cleaner that is cheaper than The Green Van Dry Cleaning, but you will not find a cleaner that provides a higher level of service.  As always, THANK YOU for your business.  -Derek Anderson, owner

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