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From the Boston Globe this morning, a story about the rapid growth of dark stores in the city:

"Promising to shuttle bananas or ice cream to your apartment in 15 minutes, these companies are renting storefronts and turning them into packing centers, then employing couriers on e-bike or scooter to make deliveries within a mile or two. They’re wildly popular in Europe, South America, and Asia. Scores have opened in New York City.

Now they’re coming to Boston, where a half-dozen of these companies — with names like Getir, BUYK (pronounced 'bike'), and JOKR — have opened or announced plans to in recent months, taking storefronts in Downtown Crossing, the South End, and Cambridge.

"In a sense, instant delivery companies are a perfect reflection of our times … Amazon primed us to expect deliveries within two days, or faster. Early-pandemic isolation trained consumers to order groceries online. Takeout became essential, sparking a wave of 'ghost kitchens' that only serve meals for delivery. And many traditional retailers vanished — especially in downtown areas — leaving a glut of empty stores that landlords are eager to fill.

"But some worry about what these companies might mean for Boston, and the streets they occupy. There’s a big difference between a traditional store you can walk into and a warehouse with covered-over windows and a stream of e-bikes coming out the door."

The Globe notes that the dark store movement is "powered by huge sums of venture capital investment — $5.8 billion in the first nine months of 2021, according to research firm CB Insights, on top of $496 million last year and $1.1 billion in 2019."

KC's View:

I agree that the dark store movement has the potential to have an enormous impact on neighborhoods, though I do think that they will be just a component of retail, not the whole thing.

But I also believe that, as simplistic as it might seen, if you want to be retailer that people want to go to, then you actually have to be a retailer that people want to go to.  That's on you - not the consumer.  In the categories where it makes sense, and in which a retailer can create for itself a compelling and differential advantage, then you actually have to do it.  

Compete is a verb.