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Salvaging the Sinking Ship October 29, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Odds and Ends.
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On the off chance that another’s misfortune might actually work to my benefit, I dropped by Tower Records at Lincoln Center a few days ago to see if there were any good deals to be had from their going-out-of-business sale. True enough, there was a prevailing discount of 20% store-wide, with discounts as high as 75% on some items.

All things considered, there were many things well worth spending on, by which I mean that the store hadn’t yet been beset by hordes of bargain shoppers leaving less-than-desirable items in their wake. With the exception of the video games section (already picked dry, much to my consternation) and boxed set DVDs, there were plenty of DVDs and CDs that caught my attention as I perused the shelves.

However, enticing as the discounts were, the net effect was merely to make the store’s merchandise at least as cheap as comparable items from, say, Amazon.com before taxes, which in most was cases still nowhere near as cheap as a 99&cent song download on the iTunes music store. I suppose this just demonstrates how disruptive business models made possible by electronic commerce really are to markets, proving Joseph Schumpeter right all over again. Good for consumers, certainly, but very challenging to industry players.

I haven’t ruled out dropping by Tower again soon. As their days grow numbered, I expect more aggressive discounts on whatever they have left, coupled with the plea that “everything must go”. But by then, I worry about what might be left to take home. Beating out hordes of savvy bargain shoppers has never been my strong suit.

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