Photo Credit Vintage Lulu's photostream

The Roaring 90's

Our little portion of the “retail nation” has really been feeling the heat. I don’t only mean the individual businesses that are distressed or closing but the actual over production of retail space. If you’ve lived in southwest Florida for any amount of time you watched it all happen and wondered when it would stop, wondered who they were building it all for and why so much of it was coming out of the ground.

What was the housing growth based on? It was based upon the housing starts of imaginary people, plain and simple. Add a twist of projected retiring baby boomers and a swipe at that money tree that was available to anyone with a pulse and things got crazy.

The explosive growth wasn’t limited to residential development. Even commercial land was developed for imaginary people. The housing boom was at a rolling boil and then developers began building commercially to match housing starts.

Tens of thousands home starts meant that grocery stores needed to be built to feed those home owners. Each of those homes would need a wall mount, flat screen TV with a sound system so the big box electronic store went in. In went another four and a half miles away. Certainly dueling pharmacies should be on every corner because medical intervention is required in order to maintain the cholesterol, mental equilibrium, blood pressure and sex life of the masses.

Most recently the barrage of layoffs and store closings are continuously in the news. I wonder how many of those layoffs and closings aren’t as much from a bad economy as they could be from greed, stupidity and creation of commercial space for people that would never materialize.

When there are several hot-cup-of-name-brand-coffee stores in less than a five mile radius, could that not be a tad excessive? Each of those stores was located in a shopping center or a mall, which means several shopping centers or malls in that same five mile radius. Every publicly traded franchise crammed their storefronts in.

After a while the saturation has the effect of trying to sell sand at the beach. Combine that with how much a steaming, hot cup of that sand actually costs and the desire to consume it eventually diminishes, bottom lines get affected and the business model either changes or dies.

Who doesn’t remember bagel stores on every corner and frozen yogurt boutiques? Besides finding a way to trick people into eating yogurt, a fad was born that eventually faded. Nothing lasts forever.

Soon enough everyone would know that the building would slow to a crawl, the people that owned the homes wouldn’t move into them and that the mocha choka latté yaya was overpriced and just giving consumers muffin tops, anyway.

Everything within our economy is cyclical. When things will change and get better, nobody really knows for sure. More importantly, when things do get better will we all grown and learned from it?

It sure doesn’t seem like anyone learned from The Roaring 20’s or any of the other economic bumps in the road in between. This time we just drove better cars and washed the good times down with mochaccino instead of bathtub gin.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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