We hear the mantra often, shop local, but in most cases it does not work. We are in a world economy now with shipping cost and currency wars playing havoc in the local community.
I needed some potassium bicarbonate for a cooking ingredient, as the recipe calls for it, and I was unable to locate any in Fort Saskatchewan. I tried everywhere and drove all over town, finally I gave up and went online. It took a couple minutes and found dozens of suppliers from all over the world selling the stuff. Each supplier has pros and cons from shipping times to price and quantities available, but I settled on an e-Bay supplier intralabs from the United Kingdom – imagine buying a small bag of food ingredient from Plymouth, United Kingdom and shipping to Fort Saskatchewan – over 6,700 km away!
I had to ask myself does this make sense and at first I stated that is was amazing I was buying stuff from the UK, but then after I though about it, it made more sense for businesses in the Fort to NOT stock it and have to sit on such a low use commodity. This opens the door to businesses around the world to specialize in one product.
It was at this point I realized the future of shopping is online, so I proceeded to create a new e-MCi website and also convert our brick and mortar store in Waskatenau, between Redwater and Smokey Lake. I figured people in the UK may be interested in the products I offer, especially the surplus electrical products. All over the world companies and businesses may choose to use used materials in order to get their projects done and see no problems with used equipment, especially when currency wars could cause new items to be excessively expensive.
So here we are in the Fort and I’m buying from literally on the other side of the Earth. I started to drive around the Fort with a new look towards the businesses and the services they offer and compared them to the online shopping businesses. I realized that many are on their way out, lots with legs and some in the middle, so here is my take on the types of businesses and there life expectancy.
Grocery Stores: Short, will soon be online based with delivery services like Skip the Dishes
Bars: Short, unless they allow for smoking weed. Hard to have a relaxing drink or two and drive home. But, a resurgence once self-driving cars arrive
Gas Stations: Very Short, as automated pumps are becoming more common everyday, we have one a short distance from Ardrossen. This means the revenue needed to keep a person behind the till is drastically reduced.
White Collar Service Companies: Very short, as all over the world you can export your data and have IT and professionals processes if for you at a fraction of the cost. This includes jobs for lawyers, accountants, eye doctors, and pharmacies. How long for your phone to take a picture of your eyes, sent to a lab to make your glasses – this year.
Blue Collar Service Companies: Long, until robots can unplug your toilet these jobs are safe
Construction: Not short but soon, as robots have made inroads into assembly of buildings. Check out this story about a robot brick layer already in use.
Clothing Stores: Very short with the integration of Amazon and other mass warehousing and drop-shipping companies.
Medical Services: Extremely short, but will never disappear as people still want to talk to people for now. Here is just one institution offering robotic surgeries.
Police: Mid length of replacement due to ability of auto-shutdowns being built into new cars, if you speed it just shuts down your car and if its driverless it will lock the doors and drive you straight to jail! Lets not forget about the advances with drones.
Fireman: Long, the complexity of fighting a fire will take a long time to automate, but new tools for the firefighters will definitely reduce the manpower required for fights.
Restaurants and Servers: Long even though the automated robot will replace many fast food stores and workers, the elegant meal on the town will live long, so look forward to a bank of fancy vending machines at your school cafeteria
Maids: Long as people still want people to interact with, but for commercial needs the cleaning staff will be short lived.
Farmers: Very short, as the breed has been dying for years and young kids are not interested, it will be the fasted switch to automation in the world. I, myself, am waiting for a self driving tractor instead of buying one now.
Drivers: Dead, we have already seen the death throws of taxi drivers due to Uber and the longhaul takeover is now.
I could keep going and break down each sector of the economy, but I wanted to address why the above changes in the economy affect the local levels. Its all about me, the millennials, kids who have grown up with global purchasing power and not just limited to Gibbons or Thorhild. They don’t have the passion or see the need for buying local products and services as their view is ‘they are to busy’. Time is the new currency and its precious. So why drive around town looking for something you need when you just sit on the couch and hunch over your phone and get the thing you need now – delivered. How will companies change to offer the services? I think the answer is they can’t and no amount of sign banners or Chamber meetings about ‘Buying Local’ will change their mind, although being a local business I hope they are convinced and do buy locally.
My entire generation has been exposed to companies from all over Canada and the world doing work in Bruderhiem, Lamont, Fort, and Sherwood Park, its the very reason we have so many hotels are lining the highways. They already understand that companies do not spend their money locally so why should they. If they have to work out of town then they can spend out of town – its all very logical.
So where does this leave e-MCi? In the midst of a changing economy with the onset of robotics and online buying, we are getting it together to address these changes. This website is just one tool we are using to combat the fundamental shift in the Edmonton area.
Next Chapter: The aging demographics and trade workers.