In the category of “We’re not surprised!”, a recent study on the number of minutes spent at an retailer online site and the dollars spent noted that Amazon, the be-all-to-end-all place to purchase goods, surpassed the amount of virtual minutes more than the nine leading companies following.

In the report entitled 2018 State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy as developed by comScore, a leading firm that conducts marketing statistics and data to retailers, stated that Amazon ranked some 22.6 billion minutes online, and two thirds of that time was done through a mobile device. eBay, coming in second place, only generated 6.28 billion virtual minutes. When it come to actually buying things via Amazon, 3/4 of the dollars spend was conducted through a desktop/laptop, vs. a phone.

On a side note, The Harris Poll recently conducted their annual consumer survey of top American based brands. For the past twenty years, Harris conducts a poll asking the public consumer for the one hundred most visible American corporations, and ranking those companies based upon their character in categories such as emotional appeal, products and services, social responsibility, vision and leadership, workplace environment, and financial performance.

For the third year in a row, Amazon took the top spot in those places as it stands for many folks’ place to shop. It’s biggest competitor in terms of what Amazon is involved in came in second: Wegmans Food Markets Inc. (Amazon is in the food market business with its purchase of Whole Foods last year.) And when it comes to traditional retailers, the top ten contain food stores. (For the record, numbers three through ten companies listed included Tesla Motors, Chick-fil-A, The Walt Disney Co., HEB Grocery Company LP, United Parcel Service Inc., Publix Super Markets, Patagonia Inc., and Aldi Inc.)

It’s been noted throughout the media sources that Amazon has been the get-go place to purchase nearly anything and everything. Many retail outlets have been competing with Amazon in terms of selling their goods with the notion of competing for price, selection, and how easy it is to make that buy. Because of this faster-smaller-cheaper way to buy things, folks finally hold the option of getting what they want with minimal effort.

With this new(er) method to shop as well as sell goods, many physical retailers have been going through their backlash in keeping their businesses up to date, if not totally afloat. Over hither and yon, many smaller retailers from those ever loving “mom and pop” operations, to stores that have been part of their community for generations, have been seeing their business move from the local approach to those competing with places that sell from cyberspace. Even the larger places have been experiencing changes in their methods of conducting business. They have been seeing interested (and potential) customers come in to look at a specific item. The said prospective person views the device, perhaps play with the functions that this unit can do, and even get a salesperson to tell the customer on how this unit can do its job. When it’s time to close the deal, the customer will say something to the effect of “No thanks! Just looking!”, only to leave the retailer and see if the same thing is available online somewhere else where it can be obtained at a lower cost. This method is called “showrooming” in the retail business, and many of these retailers don’t care to experience this method of the way goods are sold. It’s almost a reverse “bait-and-switch”.

Nowadays, retailer store that can swing it, have a “meet-or-beat” policy where if one can find the same item online at a specific cost, the retailer will match that price. And there is no shipping charges added to speak of, since the unit is given to the buyer right on the spot! Sometimes, one has to go to the physical store to complete the transaction, although some retailers offer this meet-or-beat offer online.

What about those mom-and-pop outlets that may still exist? Well, many of them have felt how their business has changed. First came the big box retailers that sprang up in the 1990’s, where these stores resembled giant warehouses. They could offer dozens of the same item. But unless one knows what they desire and where to find it at these places, it can be frustrating to get what the customer wants.

When online shopping took off around the turn of the 21st century, the bigger outlets attempted to get on the online shopping frenzy, while the smaller outlets were left in the dust. Although many of these small businesses did fail, many kept their places going, but only through a thread.

Today, the bigger outlets ranging from Sears to Toys R Us have been existing as shadows of their former selves, either changing their method of staying current, or in the case of Toys R Us, nearly calling it quits! Walmart, the biggest retailer in the nation, was once considered to be the “evil giant” by coming in to a community and taking away the business from smaller outlets in the same area. Some of these fights were in the form of not allowing Walmart in opening a store that may pose as a threat to the community. Some of these battles were successful, and others were failures. But the battle doesn’t seem to be Walmart vs. small business. It’s more Walmart vs. Amazon. And one can’t chase a retailer away that doesn’t have physical stores so to speak by telling Amazon to get out of town because they are not “in town”! But one can still buy from them at a 7/24/365 time range, even shopping at Amazon in the nude if the mood calls for such!

Only time and tide will predict the fate of these outlets in terms of selling goods as well as making an impact to the community that they do business in, such as employment opportunities, access to quality products, and so on. Right now, perhaps the biggest threat that is arriving within the horizon is what’s called “artificial intelligence” a.k.a “A.I.” a.k.a. “robots”. Already, some retailers such as the for noted WalMart has robot check out stands where one can grab their goods through a self serve scanner, and pay for said goods via a credit card or inserting cash through as slot. It’s almost like buying online without going online! But A.I. can’t replace everything, including what this writer does. But that’s for another topic and for another issue.
(*BEEP*). This is a recording! (*BEEP*)

Performing for a limited run at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood is Veronica Loving’s FEEDING A MONSTER, a drama about a father who tries to do well for his own, takes advantage of his stepdaughter that leads toward a breakdown of a family and the lives it takes with it.

Occurring within the recent past, the setting is the home of Veronica Loving (Fayley Patrice) and her husband Kenneth (Dejaun Christopher). They are a middle class African American couple living a rather comfortable life in Pasadena. Kenneth was once a professional ball player, but presently is a construction worker. Veronica is in the health care field working as a RN. They have a daughter Jazzmine (Doyin Domingo) who is of college age and was born to Veronica from another father. Kenneth loves and respects his daughter as his own, and is well liked by Veronica co-worker and BFF Rhea (Conisha Wade Dorsey). Jazzmine, or “Jazz” as she is called, has a boyfriend of her own, Eli (Andre Jefferson). Kenneth tries to do well for his clan, even attempting to get started in his own construction firm. All goes well as they stand, until one moment when Kenneth is looking over Jazz when Veronica is out of town attending a nurses convention. The two engage in drinking, where Jazz eventually passes out. Kenneth, also in his drunken state, considers a motive for Jazz that does leads toward a tragic consequence.

This play written by Veronica Loving (with Ladarrion Williams), is based upon an actual episode experienced by the “real” Veronica Loving that hold many similar plot points to what she experienced related to what is depicted on stage. At first, the play starts out as light comedy akin to a sitcom that features an African American cast. As the play (and plot) progresses, the sense of comedy turns toward tense drama. The subject on hand dictates this mood swing. When it is of a comic stage, the dialogue is sharp, sassy, and somewhat hip as it reflects upon the life of post-modern African American characters. And yes, these same characters at times do refer to each other with the “N” word, but as in passing, not as anything in a derogatory state. This form of dictation between the characters make this play as something out of reality as the hipness is all too common, and gives this stage piece a sense of depth.

Art Evans directs this production that never becomes preachy. It just depicts how a random act can progress between a stage of connection and a stage of life long tragedy.

FEEDING A MONSTER, performs at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Wilcox), Hollywood, until April 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM. Tickets can be obtained online at https://www.plays411.com/newsite/show/play_info.asp?show_id=4785

is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2018 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!


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