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DVD Players, Pay Phones, and Blacksmiths

Years ago, I went to my local consumer electronics retailer to purchase a new personal computer that had new technology that I’d heard was so fantastic that I had to have one to see for myself what all the hoopla was about. It introduced something called Microsoft Windows (remember when you had to log out of word processing to get to Lotus?).

Then, something called a DVD player was introduced, and I went to the same place to get one to replace my VCR player. Along came the laptop; the Palm Pilot, the IPOD and so on. I always went to the same place because I enjoyed the shopping experience and the people were educated on how to help me get what I wanted and needed.

Yesterday, I was saddened to learn that, instead of the bankruptcy reorganization I’d previously thought was going to happen, Circuit City is going through liquidation and will be closing their doors. Forever.

I understand that many businesses come and go and that “only the strong survive,” but it was still a little unsettling to learn about this development in Circuit City’s business plan.

I guess I have to acknowledge that the reason I visited so often is that I was going in to purchase a new item to replace an obsolete one. So, from that standpoint, Circuit City has fallen prey, in a way, to the same process that kept me going in to their store all these years.

Think of all the industries that disappeared with technological advancement: Shortly before the turn of the last century, no one could have imagined that becoming a blacksmith would ever go away as a career option. More recently, I was traveling and drove in to a rest stop. Standing to the side of the welcome center, I saw a lone, ragged pay phone. Funny how it looked out of place.

I’d love to hear your thoughts when reading this. What industries, products, etc. can you think of that have gone/are going away? But be sure to put the reason they are disappearing. I’ll bet almost everything you can think of is because there has been a better one that has been introduced.

Anyway, today, I am writing this to say goodbye to an old “friend,” while holding on to the idea that, if we stay focused on our financial plan, don’t react out of fear or panic, and remain positive, we’ll be MUCH better off than those who do not. I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again: Responding to the economic conditions out of fear can actually cause it to worsen.

Of course, in this article, I don’t mean to imply that Consumer Electronics are going to be obsolete. I’m talking about the process that forces the “less strong” out of the market where the strong does survive.

And, next year, we’ll have said so long to many other industries and markets that no longer have a target. It’s all part of the dance of progress.