3.09.2009

Amazing global facts: 1 out of every 200 are Chinese ... the other 199 work for Chili's

Don’t take my word for it. Take your own tour of a steroided suburban corridor and you’ll find the same thing: overbuilt, overstocked and overleveraged sprawltowns.

Built by a Ponzi housing market fueled by homebuilders building houses for other homebuilders, many of these "communities" appeared virtually overnight. And at the same quicksilver pace that people built for the sake of building, people will retreat just as quickly.

As new suburbia dies, most of the refugees will head back to the cities, but a few lucky ones will head deeper into the countryside. And of course, when a sprawlville empties out, the big boxes left behind will inevitably falter.

So it's not a huge reach to figure that we're at the end of an era. The dominance of suburban big box retail is slipping away.

The good news is ... most of us won't miss it at all. The outdoorsy ones are happy to find their favorite brands close to home (either at the surviving destination specialty stores or online). And we like it when aspirational brands get stronger.

Those capable of bringing to life the spirit of the mountains, those that embrace and protect the soul of places where people play, those strong enough to virtually transport consumers to a lifestyle that they only dream about from their cubicle ... Those are going to do just fine.

And the rest? I got a plate of fried onion for you ...

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