I got it in my mind to shop for “Doppelzout Licorice” again this weekend. I know of one store that sells it, in Alexandria. It being finals, and the weekend, I decided to make a day of it and take the train there with my bike and get some essay writing done on the same errand. After I was done writing at school, I came out to a hard drizzle. Great biking weather. Oh well, I had licorice to get.
DoppelZout Licorice is an incredibly acquired taste that only the Dutch have acquired so are. “DoppelZout” is dutch for “Double Salt”. This stuff is incredibly salty. Reading about this, I was excited to find it in this store in Alexandria. My excitement did not outweigh my disgust, but after a few minutes the salt and the licorice come to a peaceful union. Or may be its just the relief after I suck most of the salt out the candy leaving slightly less salty licorice.
Closed. Vacant. I hadn’t been helping them by coming every year or so to pick up a quarter pound of their extreme candy, but I expected that somehow they had found a market for their Dutch sundries. Alas, closed. As was the florist across the hall. Sad.
Yet inevitable. Retail is being seriously challenged as a land use with the rise of internet inventory, ordering and delivery of goods. Any retail establishment needs to make enough to pay the rent. Every square foot in the lease has to pay for itself, or the owner needs to reconsider what they are selling. Internet retail has the economy of scale on their side. They don’t need to pay for customer facing real estate in the nicest parts of town. Just large, secure, warehouses in the worst part of town. Traditional retail businesses still have to pay for shipping to their store, then hope the customers will come in the front door to pay for their goods and ship them the last mile to their homes. The new retailers ship directly to customer homes. Often, the savings in real estate are so great that internet retailers offer free shipping.
All the retail that will remain in a decade are services that people cannot have shipped to their door, such as this Dunkin Donuts I’m sitting in typing this, or the barber shop next door, or the dry cleaners next to that.
I looked online this morning for DoppelZout Licorice. Predictably, I can get it via Amazon, but in a kilogram pack. That’s about 10 times as much as I wanted, but that’s the new economy of scale. The customer gets what they want, good and hard.