Today I went shopping for a few hours at Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago. For living in Chicago I actually rarely make it to the heart of downtown, not really sure why that is, I would say the biggest reason is that I usually don’t have a specific reason to head there, but today I decided to venture out. Water Tower Place is one of, if not the biggest shopping attraction in all of Chicago. Today, being Sunday, I wasn’t 100% certain as to what the crowd size would be, but I guess dumb of me to not know, it was packed. I thought it was interesting because lately, a lot of what you see on the news has been about stores closing their storefronts, moving more towards only online, keeping their warehouse where their storefront is, a variety of things, but all revolving around that physical retail is dying. With anything and technology there’s almost always a tipping point where the physical version starts to regress but then it stops because at the end of the day, having something tangible in your hand will always hold some weight (no pun intended) over doing it the online way. If someone saw the mall today, they would have no idea that physical retail is on the decline. I think part of it, is the experience, as I was leaving the mall today, I had to stop and get some mini pretzels on the way out. That’s just something that when you go online to buy it you just don’t get — there are no fattening pretzels for you to indulge in when you click “add to cart.” That, along with other things, you can actually try the clothes on, ask about the sale with someone working, ask if they have more sizes in the back, all of which are gone about differently when you do it online. The internet may change the way things are done, but what it will never get rid of is the experience.
Aaron J. Boma 2016 ISU Graduate