Consumer trends are changing business

Online shopping is replacing brick and mortar stores

Up until the end of December, I owned a small business on Whyte Avenue with Rob LeBlanc. The Briefing Room itself is not gone, but the brick and mortar aspect of it is. We are now 100 per cent online at thebriefingroom.ca. This was not an easy decision to make, but more and more we came to the realization that online shopping is where the trends are headed.

More online sales was a big factor that led to closing the physical Whyte Avenue store. | Supplied

When Rob and I opened the doors to our store in 2012, we were the only store like it in Edmonton. The Briefing Room is a small boutique dedicated to men’s clothing; specifically, men’s underwear, socks, swimwear, shaving, and skincare products. We wanted to have a place that had unique products and brands from all over the world that you might not find in Edmonton. We wanted customers to have the opportunity to see and touch the products before purchasing.

The store was a huge hit right off the bat. Seeing that we found a unique niche in Edmonton, the media was all over us with coverage from TV, radio, newspapers, and blogs. There was a lot of buzz, and we rode the wave right up until it started to crash on to the shore sometime in 2017. At that point, we started seeing a drop in our sales at our Whyte Avenue location. Yet at the same time (and even before that), we saw a slow but steady increase in our online sales.

It had started to become less and less important to our customers to touch and see the products before purchasing them. The good part to this change was that many of those same customers still wanted to continue supporting our small local business, they just preferred to purchase our products online now.

I think the trend towards online shopping will continue as people become accustomed to one-click shopping with same-day delivery provided by companies like Amazon. But these conveniences come at a cost. We will slowly start to lose more independent businesses, which are unable to compete with the big guys. We will become less connected to our communities because we will no longer need to venture out of our homes.

The trend towards online shopping was only one of the reasons that we decided to close our doors, but it was a big one. All I have to say is that if you really like a local business, go out and support them when you can. As Joni Mitchell would say, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

Thank you to all the customers that supported us over the years.


Featured Image: The brick and mortar shop of The Briefing Room is now gone, but all products can still be found online. | Supplied

Steven Townsend

Steven is an Edmonton native, community organizer and small business owner. His twitter handle is @grimacetv.

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