JOHN CURLEY AND SHARI ELLIKER

Is Macy’s closure the beginning of the ‘Frankenstein Theory’?

Jan 5, 2017, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm

It’s easy to mourn the loss of the Macy’s, but we have nobody but ourselves to blame.

Sales were good over the holidays in Macy’s, but there were major layoffs with 68 stores closing around the country, including shops in Everett and Kelso. And Macy’s isn’t the only department store in a death spiral.

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It reminds me of the “Frankenstein Theory” that I learned from dad. Basically, that at a given moment in the marketplace, Frankenstein rises up on the table, reaches out and grabs the consumer by the throat and grunts out what the price is: No discount, no sale, no nothing.

I remember one time we went to make a sales call at Montgomery Hospital and they were beating us up over one penny on cotton balls. My father slapped his fist down on the table and yelled to the purchasing agent, “You are creating a Frankenstein! You are running us out of business, you are running Owen’s & Minor out of business, you’re running Brotherston out of business (these were all providers of medical supplies ) by beating us up for one penny on stuff.”

My father then predicted that some company – let’s call it ABC Medical Supplies – would go to become the only ones left and take over. That they would rise up from the table like Frankenstein and then places like Montgomery Hospital wouldn’t be the one dictating the price. The Frankenstein ABC Medical would dictate the price.

Is Macy’s the start of Frankenstein?

Does a Frankenstein sales position start to evolve at some point when Amazon wipes out all competition? Where it rises up from the table after slaying all of its competition, and say, “OK, everybody, I know you’re shopping for the best price – here it is. Got a complaint? Try going somewhere else!”

And then my $40 shirt becomes a $400 shirt.

Nah. Because these Frankenstein companies still have to be careful, too. If the price gets too high, then competition says there’s some place in there for us.

But until that time comes, I am weary that they become the one store to serve everybody. I prefer Macy’s ties.

 

John Curley and Shari Elliker on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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