Major changes are taking place on Main Street, USA. Several big box stores have closed, such as Circuit City and Linens’n Things, leaving yawning, vacant, chasms that scream blight, and cause cities to lose even more tax revenue. Coupled with this week’s closing of Chrysler and General Motors dealerships, the landscape is definitely changing.
Smaller franchises are being hit hard also. In Orlando, on the ever popular, heavily traveled highway 50 that dissects the town, you’ll pass closed Chili’s, Friday’s, Applebee’s and Bennigan’s. There’s even one stretch where five of these once popular franchises stand deteriorating side-by-side.
What is that going to do to the look of our cities? Once, growth in any form was welcomed and would probably prosper. Why, for instance, did five of the same type of restaurant franchises ever exist side by side? Perhaps this is the time for America to diversify. Maybe a mom and pop type eating establishment might be welcomed. In Central Florida, this seems to be happening, offering opportunities for smaller, less advertised businesses to open their doors without the corporate backing and accompanying overhead of the cost of a franchise. If the stimulus package really kicks in, and banks once again lend to small businesses, we’ll continue to see this trend.
Possibilities for successful small scale or one location businesses might improve in the not-to-distant future. While it’s not the time to invest in a national chain, it may just be the time to be thinking of new opportunities on a smaller, more local scale. America may end up with cities that have a more unique look as smaller businesses open their doors and apply their individual creativity.