retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The big tent is coming down.

After more than 140 years of performances, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced that it is shutting down after final performances this May. CEO Kenneth Feld " cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year," the New York Times writes.

About 400 people will close their jobs when the circus goes out of business.

The Times goes on to note that "Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary, leading to the removal of the elephants, among the most popular features of the performances. The company sent its animals to live on a conservation farm in Florida."

Now, I have to be honest here. I always liked the circus. I took my kids to the circus when they were young. But Mrs. Content Guy, being far more sensitive and intelligent and I, never liked the idea; when I mentioned that Ringling Bros. was going out of business, her response was that it was about time. (Though she feels bad about the people who will lose their jobs.)

The thing is, it was time. The world has changed dramatically in 14 decades, and the way we view animals has evolved ... and that's a good thing.

It is an Eye-Opening lesson, I think. There probably was a time when it seemed unthinkable that such an institution would go out of business. But it never is unthinkable. And if you're not in touch with what is acceptable and appropriate today - as opposed to yesterday - then it means that it is a pretty good bet that you're going to be irrelevant.

Because even the "biggest show on earth" has to come to an end.
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