Consumer Experiences Are Growing More Remote

The Detroit area is seen by some as a bellweather for a number of conditions. Shopping malls sprouted up in upwardly mobile suburban destinations pulling consumers to experience “a day shopping at the mall”. They have been a common destination around the holidays for buying presents for everyone on your list.

However there’s been a remarkable shift in our buying habits. Online shopping has become more common place. As the internet bounced to life in the 1990’s consumers were extremely wary of putting their information online. Many cautiously created pseudonyms and kept our financial transactions offline. During the 2000’s confidence grew. People were finding jobs online (for example through Monster) and realizing if they practice some simple security and held online vendors to account. In roughly 20 years since the birth of the graphic internet the amount of online sales escalates daily and “offline” shopping experiences are fading as a result. Amazon reported $243.8 million in daily sales in 2014. 1)Marketwatch, annual financials for Amazon

Dead and Dying Shopping Malls

A handful of metro Detroit’s dying malls were demolished in the past decade and redeveloped into open-air big box retail centers, such as the former Livonia Mall, the Universal Mall in Warren and Wonderland Mall in Livonia.2)Detroit Free Press, Aug 5, 2014 – “Metro Detroit malls that once thrived now fight to survive”

Summit Place Mall

Dave Hills, Waterford building inspector, left, places a condemnation sign on one of the eastern main entrances of the Summit Place Mall as John Phebus, Waterford Regional Fire Dept. lieutenant inspector, looks on. 1/5/15 Photo by Carol Hopkins, The Oakland Press

Summit Place Mall in Pontiac now has a condemned notice posted. The mall spans nearly 2 million square feet at the intersection of Telegraph and Elizabeth Lake Roads. 3)Oakland Press, Jan 6, 2015 – “Condemned: Waterford officials post notices on Summit Place Mall”

Northland Center Mall

Macy’s is one of those “anchor” stores that malls seek out… however the retailer is making the shift away from brick-and-mortar to embrace online sales. 4)Huffington Post, Jan 9, 2015 – “Here’s A List Of All The Macy’s Stores That Are Closing In 2015″170 sales associates at Northland Center Mall are seeking work now as the store prepares to close next month. Another anchor store, Target, closed earlier this month.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts said she saw few alternatives to closing the shopping landmark, as the mall is losing nearly $250,000 a month and will lack any anchor stores once Macy’s leaves

Northland’s court-appointed receiver will soon begin issuing 30-day eviction notices to the remaining 70 or so stores.

Northland Mall was deemed in receivership today and its tenant stores notified they would be forced to close. There are three potential parties interested in the mall, including the City of Southfield.

Northland Center opened in 1954 and was expanded and enclosed in the early 1970s.

After years of decline, the mall fell into receivership last fall after defaulting on a $31-million loan.

The property has been owned since late 2008 by a subsidiary of New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition, which also owns Eastland Center mall.

It would take an estimated $6 million or more to restore Northland to a “functioning shopping mall” due to the extent of the building’s deterioration. The mall also has $3 million in unpaid bills, including $700,000 in overdue water bills. 5)Detroit Free Press, Feb. 25, 2015 – “Judge approves plan to close Northland Center mall”

#DetroitWater – Corporate vs Residential

Detroit residents face the very real possibility of having the water on their homes shutoff if their balance is $150 or more for more than 2 months. Upwards of 300,000 Detroit residents have had their water shutoff since the aggressive shutoff contract with Homerich was approved. This contract was brought before the Detroit Bankruptcy court proceedings and Judge Rhodes ruled it as a fair and legal process by the City of Detroit.

However the same manner of treatment for corporate customers doesn’t exist. Northland Mall hasn’t had a day when the water was shutoff for non-payment of the outstanding water bill now at $700,000, which isn’t likely to be collected.

References   [ + ]

1. Marketwatch, annual financials for Amazon
2. Detroit Free Press, Aug 5, 2014 – “Metro Detroit malls that once thrived now fight to survive”
3. Oakland Press, Jan 6, 2015 – “Condemned: Waterford officials post notices on Summit Place Mall”
4. Huffington Post, Jan 9, 2015 – “Here’s A List Of All The Macy’s Stores That Are Closing In 2015″
5. Detroit Free Press, Feb. 25, 2015 – “Judge approves plan to close Northland Center mall”

Michigan Dreaming of Education Nightmares

State of Michigan is pursuing an overhaul of the education system. These plans appear to exclude public involvement and serve an agenda that education is where the money is (but don’t tell anyone that).

Public schools are crucial in educating toward a successful future. Anything else is catering to private interests. Learning in a closed environment dictated by state and large corporations limits results and miseducates through avoidance. Public Schools develop minds with open parachutes.

The Detroit News article states “first identify the problem”. 30 people selected through Skillman Foundation – wouldn’t that mean a focused source for who is included? There are two advisors who will filter what they hear when working with Governor Snyder on suggestions by end of March.

This entire approach is the problem! There is a view by the journalist, and apparently supported by The Detroit News that State management limiting access and control of public schools us key to success. Detroit has had State management of Detroit Public Schools for several generations of students, roughly 25 years. This is enough to create a permanent cultural shift in the city. One which has a massive truancy problem and entices students with gifts for coming in on Count Day. More parents see homeschooling as required.

Funding PUBLIC Education

Why is there a $285 million surplus in Student Aid fund? Could it be real needs in the existing system were not met? Perhaps underfunding set the stage for this restructuring activity. If you can prove things aren’t working you gain listening toward changing the system.

NoEAAschools-logoLgMore restructuring to wipe out the existing elected school board simply says the voice of the people is being squashed. The School Board meets in public and has forum for all voices to be heard. Allow the local board to work with this “portfolio of schools” and demonstrate fiscal responsibility publicly. How transparent are charter schools or the State’s EAA district?

Michigan is targeting more experiments in its education system. Don’t forget the “Skunk Works” project following Snyder’s education vision. It was scuttled quickly and evidence lost.

Education working from a real world example is VITAL for Detroit resurgence and the State economy. Why should we consistently hear business saying they need to import skilled new staff?

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