Earlier this year a new dress shop opened at our local mall. It was one of those high-end boutique dress shops. My own assessment of the situation was that it would never last ? the last thing this or any other mall needs is another boutique dress shop.
Yesterday morning I walked by the same shop. It was being dismantled. It lasted no more than six months.
Did I have inside knowledge when I made the prediction earlier this year? Was my crystal ball finally up and running? Or did I just get lucky?
Actually, it was none of the above. We keep hearing about the crisis in retail, but it seems as if it?s because they keep making the same mistakes. And retail can?t keep blaming Amazon.
The Dress Boutique Dilemma – Why Retail Can’t Keep Blaming Amazon
I?m certainly no fashion maven, but there?s one thing I think is totally obvious ? women aren?t wearing dresses anymore.
First, there?s business casual. The exact definition of that varies from one employer to another. But whatever it is, fewer women than ever are wearing dresses to work. The is true for men ? it?s rare to see men going to work in a jacket and tie.
Second, women don?t seem to be wearing dresses much in non-business situations either. Unlike when I was a kid, no one dresses up to go out to dinner. And formal parties? Does anyone do those anymore?
Perhaps the best example is church. You don?t see women wearing dresses even to go to church on Sunday anymore.
And anecdotally, the women in my life say they don?t like wearing dresses period.
But the retail industry seems to have missed that transition. It?s like dress boutiques exist mainly for the very short prom season.
There was another irony involved in the closing of this dress boutique. It opened at about the same time a Gymboree store at the mall shut down. That should have been a clue. Gymboree, as best I can tell, sells boutique clothing for very young children, from birth to perhaps Kindergarten.
I remember marveling at why that closure took so long to happen.
As a very hands-on dad, my recollection of that age includes generous amounts of poop, barf, and boogers. And spills ? usually something red that doesn?t come out in the wash. Clothing for kids that age needs to be simple, readily changeable, and affordably replaced. Quantity over quality is the preferred strategy.
That means cheap. Gymboree is anything but.
Is that Amazon?s fault? Or is it an industry that doesn?t want to face reality?
The Big Picture Mall Dilemma
The dress shop boutique is part of a bigger pattern common to malls. They favor higher end stores, particularly boutiques. But increasingly, malls are designed for a clientele that no longer shops there.
In more robust times, high-end was part-and-parcel of shopping malls. Young people in particular, often armed by their parent?s credit cards, used the malls as a place to hang out. They still do that, but it looks like they?re mostly doing it without their parent?s credit cards.
Yes, Amazon is making inroads. But the bigger ?enemy? of America?s malls is the wholesale shift in consumer spending. While malls are on life support, big box discounters like Walmart and Target are thriving. Then there are the specialty discounters. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx are expanding and adding hundreds of stores. They feature clothing people actually wear at prices they can afford ? what a revolutionary concept, huh?
This message has been lost on malls, whose management continues to pretend it?s still the 1990s. They pretend upscale is the way, and the well-heeled consumers of yesteryear will once again reassert themselves.
A big part of the reason for that delusion is cost. Malls are premium buildings constructed on premium lots. The high acquisition cost of such a building requires a very large income. The discount chains won?t pay the kinds of rents malls demand. This is why you don?t see them in most malls. That leaves malls with one option ? to continue to solicit high priced boutiques.
It?s a losing strategy. It seems only partially credible because the economy has been in at least a slow growth mode for the past several years. But we should suspect the entire strategy will unravel in a major way when the next recession hits.
Selling to a Market that Isn?t Buying
The entire enclosed mall concept was always based on selling to the upper crust, and to the upper crust wannabes. They squarely target the top 10%.
There are a few problems with this strategy. The first is that not nearly everyone in the top 10% are spendthrifts. Many are surprisingly frugal, which has at least something to do with why they?re in the top 10% in the first place.
A second is that they?re an incredibly fickle market. These are people who have choices as to where they can spend their money. And tastes change rapidly within the group. Today they?re scooping up Product A. But tomorrow, Product B is the new hot item, and they can?t get enough of it. Product A falls into the dustbin of history, never to return again
Third, is the fact that everyone is competing for the business of the top 10%. And fourth, there?s evidence the upper crust are even more likely to shop online.
And what about the top 10% wannabes?
This is the group that doesn?t have the financial wherewithal of the top 10%, but they frequently stretch to get in with the ?in crowd?. They can do this through a combination of debt and those times when they?re flush with cash.
But this group can?t be counted on to sustain buying from boutique shops. And bigger picture, this group is not as financially secure as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Many of what used to be considered middle class would be better described today as the working poor. There?s simply no money available to support premium purchases.
Meanwhile, the malls and their boutique shops continue to pretend that all is as it was in the 90s. That won?t be a winning strategy over the long-term.
Why This is Not Likely to Get Better
The dying of America?s malls is a real phenomenon that seems destined to take down hundreds of malls before it?s done. It may even permanently alter the ones that survive.
If there was to be a renaissance of America?s malls, it would certainly have happened by now. Statistically speaking, at least according to the government, we?ve been in a sustained economic recovery for over nine years. If that doesn?t resuscitate the malls, nothing will.
In the end, America?s malls are tied to the fortunes of the American consumer. Unless that gets suddenly and substantially stronger in a hurry, the malls are unlikely to get healthier.
As they continue to cling to outdated economic and business strategies, they?ll continue to decline. Expect to see many more boutique closings, especially when the economy officially declines.
If You?re Going to Open a Store Be Very Careful What Kind You Open
I often advocate self-employment on this website, since it?s working well for me. But it?s also clear that you must be careful what kind of business you go into.
The mall boutique stores are a cautionary tale, especially if you plan open a store or shop of some type. Rest assured if you see too many of the same type of stores, your chances of surviving in that industry are slim.
I see the retail decline as a potential windfall for small business. Don?t under-estimate this possibility. Big retail is in a serious contraction, even during relatively good times.
But consumers are buying more on the web all the time, and not just from the giants like Amazon. Many small independent internet merchants are thriving. It?s even possible to attach a website or online store to a physical store to expand sales, particularly well beyond your geographic location.
As a small business, you have the advantage of radically lower overhead. There?s no chain of shops ? most of them financed ? and the expenses and payroll needed to keep them staffed and open for business. You can also shift with consumer trends more quickly, or even concentrate on specific niches the big guys are too big to exploit.
In 1959, John F. Kennedy said the following:
?The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.?
We?re seeing a lot of changes taking place all around us. Yes, there?s plenty of danger lurking in these events. But we should also take a deep look at these shifts to find the hidden opportunities. They?re out there waiting to be discovered.
The retail bubble is bursting. It has been for awhile. I do believe people have way less money to burn on a Saturday walking around a mall like in the past.
Have you been in retail store lately? It’s a horrible experience. Their is usually one cashier serving the whole store. Nobody is around like in the past to help you on the floor. Your basically on your own.
Min. wage laws have forced these stores to cut back on staff. I see more and more automatic checkout lanes. I also believe that their is simply too many of them. In a 50 square mile radius of where I live there are probably 150 retail stores all selling the same things.
I know I don’t want to go through the experience of this nightmare. It’s just easier for me to order something online. No people to deal with. Employees who could care less or waiting in a line with ten people with one cashier. Every customer takes 10 minutes to deal with. Too many ways to pay, people fighting over expired coupons or prices marked wrong. Store employees who have no idea of the weekly sales.
There is also a huge movement to support local shops and small businesses more than ever. Places like Target and Walmarts have ruined many a towns sucking like a leach all the small business people right out of business. I think alot of people are tired of it. We have a small town 30 minutes outside of here that booms. Main street is flush with businesses.The whole town banded together five years ago to keep a walmart out.
So you make good points. I believe with what you said and some of the points I make is the reason retail as a whole is going downhill fast.
Hi Tim – But the reality is retail will never completely disappear, it’ll just change into something different. That will include the web. I think the reason that small town is thriving is because of the people factor. Even and especially in an age of increasing automation and machines, people still crave the shopping experience – a pleasant one at any rate, and that requires people manning the stores. The small independent has a better capability to deliver that. The corporate retail chains are all on this “lean and mean” campaign, which is to say they can’t make a profit unless they figure out how to run the stores with fewer and fewer people.
I don’t blame the employees at all, they’re at the mercy of the employers. And as you point out, the higher minimum wages are leading to staff reductions. It’s hard to get help in the chains. The operate on skeleton staffs even during busy seasons. Employees are also poorly trained. I don’t entirely blame the chains for the employee problem, there are payroll, benefit and insurance costs that make hiring prohibitively expensive. But the corp boardrooms where big picture strategies are being hatched are another matter. Like I wrote in the article, they’re continuing to press forward with an outdated strategy because they see no alternatives. This is why I think most big chains will eventually disappear, but especially the chain boutiques. They’re trying to sell to a market that no longer exists.
I think the next downturn is going to create some serious opportunities for small business people. We need to stay on top of this situation as it plays out. The downside of course is that retail is a major source of entry level jobs. As chains close stores or go out of business, those jobs go with them. I suspect it’ll be a slow transition from job losses to new business opportunities, but all we can do is roll with the punches.
Living in a big town, our Macy’s does not have a good selection of anything. I shop on line at Macy’s and order 2 sizes of things and maybe 10 choices of possible outfits (for examples dress to wear to a wedding). I try on at home and return the rest to my local Macy’s. I also subscribe to the theory of eliminating decision overload and typically were jeans and a black tee shirt!
Hi Jackie – I’ve heard people are more likely to buy online if there’s a local store available, either for pick-up or return. At least that’s what Target maintains. But I wonder, with Macy’s and JC Penny, why does anyone shop at the boutiques, particularly given that so few women wear dresses any more. The jeans and tee shirt seem so much more common, even in some workplaces.
There are several things dying like this. Malls, country clubs, VFW posts. Moose lodges all that stuff is going away.
Everything is too complicated Jackie. I choose the same. Keep it simple and eliminate all this addition overload.
You’re absolutely right Tim, a lot of the stuff we grew up with is either gone or it will be soon. Think about phone booths, truly free checking accounts (still available at credit unions though), and even certain sports in the schools, like dodge ball and baseball (“potentially violent”). A lot of golf courses and drive in movies are disappearing because the land is more valuable for development. Thank God there are still a lot of small towns around here where life is still pretty normal.
I don’t know where these places get their CEO’s. If this is the only things they can come up with.
I know what I would do. I would start to dismantle this model and open much smaller intimate stores with a area flare that fits into the demographic of the area. A big box retail store here added a whole local area artist section. They asked us to supply alot of things we make. I turned it down. The requirements involved for me was not fiscally sound for us. Its takes 6 months to get paid for one. Plus I had to add a million dollar insurance policy for what I don’t know.
I warned alot of small business here not to get involved but they did. The store declared bankruptcy a year later and everybody that got involved got burned. The Bon Ton was the store.
I did think that the model could work on a different level. They we’re already bloated by the time they thought of this.
Your right though. I don’t see many of those specially shops lasting at all anymore past a few months.
My experience is small business-to-small business is the way to go. It’s a partnership between approximate equals. But if you’re small and you’re working with the big guys, they dictate the terms. Small businesses can’t afford to operate on the early delivery/delayed pay basis the big companies do all the time. It’s a toxic arrangement, and one with the very real risk of not getting paid. But I agree that concept could work on some level.
You are right about malls backwards attitude towards the clientele, they are geared to a type of shopper who really doesn?t exist anymore.
My son worked in two stores of a chain store that were in two completely different malls. The original clientele ( the top 10%) still lived in area but because of development of apartment style housing,a completely different clientele has developed, who consider the mall a place to go activities that they could do without major money output. The food mall was constantly used for big parties ( no rental fee and the cleanup was left for the cleanup crews of the mall). One of the malls had a local special education group that would bring the students weekly to wander the mall unaccompanied as an outing. The other mall had the big open spaces taken over by local activities for functions with little notice to the individual stores. The only notice the stores in both malls was for the Halloween candy participation which gave them a sign to post declaring their participation in this ritual.
It?s the mall owners who need to make changes to how the mall is developed especially if the anchor spots are empty and make the mall a profitable business option based on the new customer clientele. The new customers want to be entertained and they want spaces for family type activities. Movie theaters aren?t the big draw but arcade style activities like a Chuckie Cheese adventure. These are not customers with liberal spending tendencies, these are the bargain hunter browsers. How else to explain those long lines on the day Build a Bear offered pay you age price for the bears. My son sent me a video of the mall that day which was jammed packed with families waiting to get this bargain.
A high-end shop with fancy items doesn?t fit into the type of shop, these customers would consider buying from unless it was a closure sale.
For an entrepreneur to have a good business setup in a mall today, they are better off using the open stand method (the old pushcart method) to avoid the high rents from the mall owners. The most successful malls have been those who?ve changed to their customer needs.
I agree with all you’ve written Maria Rose, but it’s also exactly what the mall owners/developers are trying to avoid. They had a good thing going from the 1960s through the 1990s, but when the Dot-com bust hit in the early 2000s, followed by the Financial Meltdown a few years later, they didn’t change tactics. More specifically, they didn’t have a comprehensive plan to change with the times. They may have to open up to smaller, low cost providers, and drop rents to attract Target and Walmart as anchors. That, plus adding family type activities will bring the crowds back. They should start by examining the downtown areas of the pre-mall era and see what worked back then. It seemed to be a combination of practical affordable stores for everyday needs, including services, a FEW boutique stores, and a lot of street culture and entertainment. If they can recapture that in an enclosed space they could turn the whole thing around. But that will depend on their ability to get out of their high cost building costs from acquisition. And that may require a wave of bankruptcies to clear out the excess costs.
Unfortunately I don’t see the shift occurring intentionally, but accidentally. That’s what we have to keep an eye on. Right now if you’ve seen one mall, you’ve seen them all, and they all have the same stores, none of which reflect the culture, demographics and personality of the local community. That’s what has to change, but the current mall model isn’t set up for that kind of shift.
Same with the mall here. There is a go cart track in it now. They have built several eating places. Shopping taken a back burner in this mall. However, Kevin makes a point about dresses. It interesting, I never noticed. Build a bear, what a money making sham that was or is. Is it still in operation?
By the time your done you have dropped 100 on a stuffed animal. I’d would be shocked if this thing is still operating.
I would change the whole model. If I owned a store or thought about starting one. The mall would be the last place I would go.
You’re right Tim, but the problem in the short run is the malls are where the crowds still are, relatively speaking. Many traditional downtowns, which would be natural places to start businesses, are emptied out. That’s one of the biggest challenges for small businesses, finding AFFORDABLE locations with enough customer traffic so support the venture. The chains have run up the rents, which is one of the main reasons I think their disappearance will be a major advantage for small businesses.
Once rents come down, probably during and after the next recession when the retail disappearance accelerates, we may see a surge in small business formations. And the addition of both online sales and business-to-business sales and partnerships will help even more. But it’s getting to that point. I think it’s coming soon. If the big chains are choking in a growing economy, there could be a bloodbath when things turn down. But people will still need stuff, and that’s where the opportunities will be.
As for the comments about women wearing dresses or not, the going trend is to buy wear and return. I would wear at least for the hot humid summer a nice midi length dress if they made them n material that didn?t require me to wear three layers to keep modest. The better option for a fancy occasion is to rent the outfit ( There?s a few sites who supply the whole outfit and you get to chose the better fit all rented and returned unless you want to buy). Besides that dressing up trend has long passed.
YES! I’ve heard about the buy, wear and return trend. That speaks volumes about the change in style. Formal wear is usually for a single event, after that the outfit isn’t needed any more. It’s yet another reason why the number of dress boutiques has me mystified. I see these shops all over the malls, but nobody dresses that way anymore, except for special events. And even those are becoming less common.
Of course, the counter trend is young people are spending more on proms than ever. But a 12 month business can’t be profitable with one month of high sales. That may explain why the dress shop I described in the article is going out during the summer – prom season is over.
Even when my son went for HS graduation photos, the photographer supplied top half wraps designed to look like suits. The boys had these weird smocks on that looked formal for the photo, but they were in tee shirts, shorts and sneakers or sandals below the rib cage. We’re definitely moving toward a less formal era, and it doesn’t look like big retail knows now to adjust.
Your probably right. I hate shopping so much, honestly I don’t really know what people like anymore. I wouldn’t care if 90 percent of retail closed and disappeared. I’m for small business period. I haven’t set foot in a target or Walmart in 15 years.
I don’t know what would make anybody like this dress shop think this would work. Just because you have talent for something doesn’t make it a business. We have people who come in our shop all the time with all these ideas that they think would sell but they won’t. I don’t bother to tell them. It might sell for a month. The novelty t shirt business is one. Guys come up with a catchy slogan and they think they will make millions. Unless some a list clebrity wears it it will sell for a month and die. Then you have to come up with another one. We print all kinds of very talented people’s work and they struggle to sell things.
I think a lot of people really aren’t looking for a serious business idea, but more like the winning lottery ticket. They hope to come up with an idea that will make them a million dollars fast, but not a truly sustainable business. I also think most people don’t really get what a business is. A good idea and a sustainable business are two very different things.
This kind of made me laugh because I purchased two dresses at a boutique this past Saturday. I also wore a dress to church. I’m located in Dayton, OH. We have a lot of small boutiques that seem to be doing pretty well. The cities promote them on “First Fridays” with food trucks, specials, and entertainment. As for the malls, they are pretty much abandoned. You only go there if you want to experience the feeling of wanting to get mugged.
Hi Heather – But it sounds like you didn’t buy those dresses in an over-priced mall boutique, and that makes all the difference. What you’re describing in your town is close to what I think will be coming in the near future. People still want to be out around people, but it needs to be an affordable experience, will products and services you’ll actually buy and can reasonably afford. Retail has been a part of civilization from the beginning, but what we have now with the malls and big retail chains is a gross distortion of the real thing.
Interesting about that mugging thing. Before we moved out of Georgia there was a suburban mall that we and a lot of others stopped going to for the same reason. It was once a popular mall, but it’s gone downhill. I think a lot of them have. Safety was once a feature that was promoted as a reason to go to a mall, but not so much any more.
We had the same issue here. People started screaming that the mall was racially discriminating the minorities because the mall was in the suburbs and they didn’t have access to it like everybody else. Is that wasn’t enough the mall decided to offer free busing to shut these people up.
What followed was five years of muggings, gang fights, car break ins. They finally had to hire their own security force. Not just a few guys but a whole squad. With vehicle patrols. They had to write new policies that nobody under 18 could be in the mall without an adult. No groups hanging around the halls more than five people.
The mall almost went under because of this. Nobody would go there. It worked but took ten years to fix. The mall recovered but they lost many customers for good after that.
What a sick world we have. People have lost their minds in this country, period.
I’m with you there Tim. A radio guy in New York used to say every day “it’s sick and getting sicker”.
It’s another example of the disappearance of the middle class. There are still lots of people shopping at boutiques, but you won’t find them at the mall; they are at the exclusive boutiques.
There is a lot of money out there, but it is being concentrated in fewer and fewer people.
My wife and I were recently talking about one of the big malls nears us. We figured they should add a couple of residential condo towers and a grocery store. It’s already on the transit route.
They can keep trying to rehash old mall ideas, and, as long as there are investors with deep pockets, I guess that’ll work… kind of. But sooner or later someone is going to get a brilliant idea. I look forward to hearing it.
You’re right Neil, it comes down to the disappearance of the middle class. That’s exactly what the mall developers/retail chains don’t want to acknowledge. But it also comes down to OPM – “Other People’s Money”. Malls are built and retail chains are expanded with leverage. Whether that’s bank financing, floating bonds, selling stock or getting funds from private equity or real estate investment trusts, the corporate chieftains and developers don’t have enough skin in the game to consider serious alternatives. The entire goal is to grow, always to grow, and always targeting the top 10%. So they keep doing more of the same in a self-perpetuating cycle. That’ll be the pattern until investors no longer participate, or don’t have the funds.
I like your ideas about condo towers and a grocery store. But they should also consider one or more big box discounters, entertainment centers, and a very large “low rent” section to include local start ups. The latter might encourage some form of “street culture” that gives a shopping center a human personality. Today, most of them are reminiscent of the 1976 movie Logan’s Run, where people lived in this antiseptic-looking domed community that had no personality. Which is the result of them all looking the same and having the same stores. They need to incorporate the local culture and economy, making them more enjoyable, affordable and human.
I’m not sure if they want to acknowledge the disappearing middle class or they just don’t know. I find that probably over half the people I know consider themselves middle class but they really are not.
They still try and live the lifestyle but it doesn’t add up. When you live in a debt-fueled haze it gives off the illusion that you are middle class. Most people I know have two cars and a 2500 square foot home and delude themselves into thinking they are more successful than they really are. If most of these people actually lived on cash they would realize they are much poorer than they think.
When I go out to the suburbs here I see miles and miles of new homes. Two or three SUV’s in the driveway. I always wonder. When you drive by a mall where there are rows and rows of one or two-year-old cars and it’s packed on the weekend than how would you know.
Most people are educated on CNN or money shows like mad money or some other stupid show like that. They have no real idea.
When you actually own your life then you have net worth. Other than that you are renting a middle-class lifestyle.
I’m really not so sure Kevin people really understand that. Maybe I am wrong but from where I sit and the people I know this is the case.
I understand what you’re saying about these places not changing with the times but I really think at least 70 percent of the population really doesn’t get it. My wife, who lives with me has a hard time getting it. We have driven all over this country. Driven through hundred’s of towns with boarded-up buildings, terrible roads, no life and empty factories. I tell her all the time if you are not seeing the decay your just not looking or you don’t want to look.
That’s where I think over half the population lives.
I don’t think your observation is off base. Your comment “…live in a debt-fueled haze it gives off the illusion that you are middle class” about sums it up. When you can get a house with 3% or less down, a car with zero down, and borrow unlimited funds in student loans with no qualification required, it makes perfect sense. Then you add the surveys that show most households can’t come up with $500 or $1,000 for an emergency, the picture becomes clearer. Like you, I’ve driven through hundreds of miles of America to see the abandoned towns and factories, as well as impoverished inner cities. Something clearly is amiss.
But as has been well chronicled on other websites, money is no longer money, credit is money, and that’s what’s driving it all forward. At least for now. We have to remember that we’re still living in a time of near record low interest rates and that’s what’s driving the economy. Plus you have the media telling everyone how they need the good life, and they can buy it with low cost financing. It’s a toxic mix that’s making everyone look and feel richer than they really are.
That said, my wife and I are going on vacation soon, and we’re paying cash for the hotel. We prefer going “old school”. If you have to borrow you can’t afford it. But I realize that’s not the way most people do things any more. So be it. We always have the option to not participate in the practices of the majority.
The purpose of my comments is I hope to rile up enough passion in people to live differently. That you don’t have to be a victim. Or live your life blaming other circumstances on why you can make progress.
To live differently you have to think differently first. Paying cash for a hotel is a mindset. Again, if you can’t pay cash you cannot afford to go. If you can’t save a thousand dollars for an emergency fund then you can’t afford to pay 150 dollars a month for a cellphone or cable.
I remember a long time back I prepaid my cell phone. I bought a 30 phone card every month with minutes and loaded it in. I could have done what my friends we’re doing. Building was more important to me. I never saw any real results of this type of life for 30 years. Then all of a sudden boom, I’m the one traveling all over. Doing what I want. Building a business. The’re at home worrying about fixing their car because they lived above their means their wholelife.
Living a debt slavery train has to make you so mad that you refuse to except it. That’s where people need to get.
It’s never too late. It can be fixed. It’s like a war. You refuse to loose.
I understand what your saying above is right. It’s right for the government but not for the people. Do the opposite of what they want to herd you into.
Sorry for the rant. I realize I got way off topic. My usual.
Tim makes good points. I worked at JCP in the 1980s. There was a register in every dept. w several sales people to man it! We were on a base pay and got commission. Also, we were sent for training several times a year to keep up on our dept. changes.
Yes, we all wore dresses (all dry cleanable), hose, full face of makeup, and those painful high heels! All while being Mothers of small children. We would go home and parent in those binding garbs.
Something happened where the business world learned all of that isn’t necessary to be talented and make sales.
Today, I wear a wash/wear dress w no slip, open toe shoes, barley any makeup and a handbag that doubles as a back pack.
L I B E R A T I O N!
Hi Ruth Ann – Tim was absolutely right, and it was a point I raised in the original article (women aren’t wearing dresses any more. But I like the point you raise about how the company USED to have adequate staff and provide training. I think that’s a major issue, and highlights the fact that companies have had to go “bare bones” just to stay afloat, if that’s even the case. Training used to be part of the job in most companies, esp the larger ones, but today you might get two days of training, then you’re out on the floor doing the baptism-by-fire thing. I don’t know if that was a point you wanted to emphasize but it’s a critical one in this day and time.