Local brick and mortar stores stand strong during the digital age

Two local brick and mortar retail businesses are still standing in the advent of online streaming and subscription services.

With the emergence of traditional commerce’s digital frontier, the methods by which consumers receive products has drastically changed, shifting the landscape of global business in the process. Instead of the long-established methods of shopping within brick and mortar businesses, the emergence of e-commerce, specifically streaming, has created a considerable change in not only the way customers shop, but the methods that these traditionally in-person shops present themselves.

For shops such as Otto’s Bookstore in downtown Williamsport, [owners? employees] say they have noticed a shift, but find that staying true to their essence is a key to surviving in this [I wouldn’t call it “new” perhaps developing?] new digital landscape, according to Alissa DuBois, sales associate and “Jane of all trades” at Otto’s.

“At one point we did try to offer more books online, but for the most part it didn’t pan out. But we stayed who we are, and digital books hasn’t really affected us like we thought it would,” said DuBois.

Tracey Yeagle, co-owner of Isle of Comics in South Williamsport, agrees. While online comic streaming services offer some advantages,she said, serious collectors still prefer an in-hand product.

“It’s nice to have it digitally — you can read it without messing up your book, you can get exposure to a lot more people. But at the end of the day, people that are really honest collectors want something in their hand to read, collect, and enjoy.”

According to both DuBois and Yeagle, not only have they not had to change the way they do business, but the idea of digital media has not nearly had the effect on their respective industries they feared it would.

“I would say that [digital] medium is here and that’s how some like it, but for many, many people, they still want a physical book. As for as Amazon goes, that’s how some people shop for everything, but we’re holding our own and I see more bookstores popping up in Pennsylvania,” said DuBois.

“There have been high points and low points, depending on the economy – this is kind of an expendable thing.”

According to both Yeagle and DuBois, what keeps their respective places of business competitive isn’t what they offer customers, but the human interaction that comes with browsing a physical location.

“You can talk comics online – you can read it, and maybe there’s a forum. But there’s just something to coming into a shop, you know other people will be in there for the same reason, and you can talk comics, you can talk history, and you can learn and recommend other things,” says Yeagle. “It’s the whole experience.”

Dubois echoes a similar sentiment toward bookstores.

“For example, if you know you want the new James Patterson or the new John Grisham, then you can get it anywhere you want,” explains DuBois. “But if you’re a reader [who] loves literary fiction, you could search but there is nothing that beats coming in and looking or talking to someone that’s a passionate reader. You can’t get that online. Amazon doesn’t supply that.”

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