Category: Business and Free Enterprise

Could there be a Future for Brick and Mortar?

brickandmortarIn recent times, it has seemed like online shopping is slowly pushing in-store shopping out of the picture. There are a lot of reasons why switching to online shopping makes sense. It doesn’t involve leaving the house and driving to a store, and sometimes sales tax is eliminated or the product is sold at a lower price than in-store. But brick and mortar stores might not be going the way of the dodo.

This week, Amazon opened its first retail store ever. In an ironic twist of fate,the online company that is so often credited with killing brick and mortar bookstores
is now looking to expand by opening its own physical location. Books sold in the store are offered at online prices, and they even come with customer reviews printed on cards. Located in Seattle, the new store primarily appears to be an experiment. As of yet, there are no firm plans to build more stores, but if this one goes well, Amazon hopes to open more locations.

It’s not quite clear what Amazon is hoping to achieve with this store, but it is probably safe to assume that they have legitimate reasons for venturing into the physical realm. Business News Daily reported on a study that found consumers still prefer to purchase in person. Many who participated in the study said they will often use the internet to research and browse before purchasing, but they prefer to make their actual purchases in a physical store.

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Finally – Legal Investment in Small Businesses

SECYou no longer have to be super wealthy to invest in a new startup company or small business. On October 30th, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced new rules that will make equity crowdfunding legal, something investors and small companies looking to raise money have been waiting a long time for. While not perfect, the rules are a step in the right direction to allow capital to flow freely and efficiently to new business ideas and products, which could unleash exciting opportunities.

What is Equity Crowdfunding?

Many people are familiar with the idea of crowdfunding in general — raising money from a large group of people. The two biggest crowdfunding platforms are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. But have you ever noticed that both platforms only allow you to receive products in exchange for your contribution? In other words, you may get a t-shirt or the first product that rolls off the assembly line, but you can’t have an ownership stake in the company: that would have been illegal.

This problem became glaringly obvious to people when Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset in development, was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion. The project was initially launched on Kickstarter, and those who helped get the company off the ground were given an early prototype of the product in return. But when Facebook made the acquisition, these backers received nothing because they didn’t actually have any shares in the company.

Previously, only accredited investors, or those who were already wealthy, were able to participate in these investments. Now there is the potential for anyone to invest in companies looking to raise capital. This is important for a number of reasons.

For Peet’s Sake: Who’s Roasting Who?

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I have always been a coffee house aficionado. The cacophony of sounds emanating from caffeine-buzzed coffee drinkers and pulsating espresso machines appeals to my love for vibrant and hip locales.

Starbucks, which is largely credited with bringing specialty coffee to America, was my first orientation to this whole craze. As a young entrepreneur in Chicago back in 1993, I would indulge in an espresso at my favorite Wacker Drive location, amid a sea of boisterous traders from the Chicago Stock Exchange. Few of us at that time pondered the effect this coffee house trend would have on the culture of American society.

Many years later while on a business trip to San Francisco, my client recommended that I break rank with Starbucks and try a place called Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Amusingly, I thought my client was referring to some lowly guy named Pete who perhaps had a ramshackle vending cart on a downtown street corner nearby. Instead, I was excited to discover a Peet’s store which evoked a pleasant atmosphere and a strong coffee aroma (that can cling to your clothing if you hang around in there too long).