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Failure is Always an Option: 3 Retailers that Disappeared

You think you’ve made it. Your business is on top and been up there for awhile. You’ve diversified, you have franchises. But, here are 3 retailers who found out that failure is always an option, and what you can learn from it.

1. Blockbuster

Always Blockbuster. Poor, poor Blockbuster. In 2002, Blockbuster was valued at $5 billion. It had even become synonymous with renting a movie. If you wanted to rent a movie for the weekend, you asked if anyone wanted to go to Blockbuster, even if you were going to Hollywood Video. Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2010.

What went wrong:

Netflix and Redbox came and pushed them out of the market.

What can you learn:

Always be ready to embrace new technologies, especially if your company’s product is technology. Evolve or perish.

2. K. B. Toys

When it filed for bankruptcy in 2008, K.B. Toys was the leading mail-based toy retailer, but even then it only represented a small percentage of the United States toy market.

What went wrong:

Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon had better prices.

What can you learn:

Downsizing is not a four-letter word. If you’re good at something, don’t be afraid to try and be the best at it. If K.B. Toys had focused on it’s mail order sales while decreasing it’s brick-and-mortar presence, would it still be around? If it had embraced Amazon’s Marketplace, or eBay would it have sold more through the mail? Maybe not. But, it’s something to think about.

3. Woolworths

In 1997, after 117 years, the last Woolworths closed its doors. It wasn’t all failure, though. The Woolworth Corporation changed its name to Venator Group and still operates some retail stores, including Foot Locker and Northern Reflections.

What went wrong:

Again, lower prices at Wal-Mart and Target helped to bury Woolworths. However, America moving out of the cities and into the suburbs was the first shovelful of dirt in the grave. As America left the city, tastes changed. And one of those tastes was a distinct lack of interest in what Woolworths had to offer.

What you can learn:

Sometimes, the market disappears.

Do you know of a company that failed? What can be learned from their failure? Share in the comments below.

Wal-mart in sexual discrimination case

Wal-mart has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a sex-discrimination case brought by its female employees.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is appealing an April ruling that authorized the class action, which could include over 1 million female workers. Wal-Mart allegedly practiced widespread discrimination in its pay and promotion practices. The lawsuit was first filed by six women in federal court in 2001.

A divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had allowed the lawsuit to proceed, saying mere size should not be a reason for dismissing the case. The litigation could involve billions of dollars in damages and has been described as the largest sex-discrimination class action ever.

Saying the workers are seeking billions of dollars in back pay, Wal-Mart told the justices that the claims of workers around the country were too diverse to proceed as part of one lawsuit.

The Supreme Court will have to decide whether to hear the appeal.

Stocks rally Tuesday

The long holiday weekend has breathed life into the stock market. Stocks have rallied on Tuesday. Investors went after shares hit when indexes down over 15% over the past two months.

Both the Dow and Nasdaq closed at an eight month low on Friday. The Dow Jones was up by 140 points or 1.5%. The Nasdaq composite was up 38 points, about 1.9%.

Gains were broad based, with 29 of 30 Dow shares rising, led by Caterpillar, Chevron, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, 3M and Wal-Mart Stores.

Progress from banks are helping to drive the recovery. Bank of America was up 2.5% and the KBW bank index was up 2.6%.

Wal-mart slashes iPhone price

Oh, Wal-mart. I see what you did there.

Wal-mart is slashing the price of the Apple iPhone, 16GB 3GS down to $97. It is expected that the much leaked next generation of iPhone will be unveiled next month. This is a strategy to clear out Wal-mart’s inventory of the outdated models. For those of you who don’t know the normal price of an iPhone, this is a little over $100 off the list price.

To get this deal, you must buy a 2-year contract with AT&T. Apple sold 8.3 million iPhones last quarter.

Apple considers the leak of the next generation damaging. They claimed some would wait for the next gen rather than purchase the current products on the market. That happens anyway, though.

The Glory of the DVD Bin

Every once in awhile, Wal-mart or Target or any number of locations haul out a big cardboard box, throw their overstock of DVDs into it, and mark them all down to some ridiculously low price. Usually starting around $5.99, my mother told me there was nothing worthwhile in these bins.

She is wrong.

The DVD markdown bin holds a bounty of treasure. All you have to do is dig. For example, I found a copy of Space Camp. Space Camp is one of those movies that you loved when you were a kid, but when you see it as an adult, you start to wonder about yourself. How could I love a movie that was so bad? It’s a movie so bad, it’s good.

Sometimes, after a bad day, you need a bad movie to cheer you up. Or, after a good day, you need to end on a laugh.

You need to own Space Camp, but paying anything more than $5.99 for it is a crime.

The DVD bin is a societal necessity. The thrill of the hunt returns to humanity in your neighborhood super store. Bow and arrows in aisle five.

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