Friday, August 20, 2010

The Death of In-World Retail

Some bittersweet news came my way yesterday. One of my favorite stores was having a 50% off sale. They were having the sale because they were dropping their in-world presence. BINA Gorean Clothing (SLurl) moved from a beautifully crafted full region to a nicely crafted Homestead region that retained the essence of the former despite the loss of detail last year in what I assumed was a move to economize. A number of stores had done so about the same time and quite a few malls had completely closed. It looks like the process is continuing.

Cymoril Lightfoot, BINA owner, cited "several factors" in the closing in a note card to her group, but I'm betting that the declining in-world economy and the emphasis on the use of XStreet SL (soon to me SL Marketplace) by The Lab since it acquired the service are factors. Like many, Ms Lightfoot will maintain some land in-world to house her XStreet server box so she can continue having a presence in the economy. Without having to pay for large tracts of land this could be a boon.

Its a calculated risk and I'm not merchant enough to discuss the merits of such a plan. After all I've opened and closed more shops than I can count. But I will miss visiting BINA for the atmosphere as well as the high-quality clothes. Shopping should be an experience and I like supporting merchants that feel the same way. Spending time exploring the environment that sets the mood for the merchandise is a powerful sales tool. Some in the Real World have derisively called it the Disneyfication of retail -- stores and shopping malls becoming a destination -- but it works (Web). Yes, I often use XStreet to shop, but mostly to find the merchandise and to find where I can see it in-world. It also gives me a certain satisfaction to buy in-world because the merchant doesn't have to share the sale by giving The Lab a commission.

To support shopping in-world, especially at themed shops and malls, I'm going to make an effort to post profiles of such places on this blog. You'll also find some on the Lucky Kitty Crew blog (Web) in as many of my future posts as I can get away with writing. In my previous posts there I frequently advocated getting out and exploring beyond hitting the Lucky Chairs or the Midnight Mania boards for the fun of it (as well as finding more freebies).

But while you can, visit BINA. You don't have to be Gorean to appreciate very high quality clothes, a great sale, or just a great build to explore.

(Thanks to Zyx Flux for tipping me to the closing and for posing with me in the pic above. She's a cute and clever pixy. The store closes August 30th.)

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